A big part of the dot com lifestyle comes from the fact that you are not bound to any single location. So long as you have access to the Internet, you have an opportunity to make your living. Generally speaking, you’ll still be doing this from the comfort of your own laptop, but this isn’t always the case. That’s why the concept of storing your documents in “the cloud” is quickly rising in popularity.
What about all your favorite websites? You surely remember the URLs to Google and John Chow dot Com by heart, but what about all of your other bookmarks? Working to fix this situation is 43Marks.com, the online bookmarking site that serves as the subject of this review. A fully customized homepage awaits you.
Remote Access to All Your Bookmarks
While you may already make use of the bookmarking feature in Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, or any number of other web browsers, these bookmarks are not accessible from outside of your home computer. Firefox has an add-on that integrates with another online bookmarks site, but that service doesn’t offer the best of homepages.
With 43Marks, your bookmarks are displayed on one convenient homepage, organized by as many categories as you’d like. You can add, remove, and rearrange these bookmarks as you see fit. When you sign up for an account with 43Marks, you are given a unique URL that contains your username. For example, my 43Marks homepage can be found at 43marks.com/michaelkwan.
A strange curiosity that I discovered with this online bookmarks site is that the www and the non-www sites are somewhat separate. You gain access to the same information by going to http://www.43marks.com and http://43marks.com, but the login cookies don’t transfer between the two. If you log into the www version, you are not logged into the non-www version. The developers need to set the preferred domain for 43Marks.
On a side note, you can choose to have your 43Marks homepage public or private. If it is public, then you don’t need to log in to see your bookmarks (and neither does anyone else). If it’s private, then you obviously have to log in first.
RSS Aggregation Too
In addition to all the regular bookmarks stored on your 43Marks homepage, ther is also a section on the bottom for aggregating RSS feeds. Because of the relative confines of these RSS boxes, the content of the feeds are pretty difficult to read. I also found that the scroll bar “jumped” from time to time and I couldn’t figure out why.
I appreciate the RSS integration, but the implementation needs some serious work. For now, I’ll just rely on Google Reader for my RSS aggregation.
Managing Links and Categories
As you can imagine, there is a certain level of customization to 43Marks. Managing the bookmarks is a fairly straightforward process as there are direct links to edit, delete, and “favorite” any given bookmark. (I set Beyond the Rhetoric as a favorite and you can see this as a red star in the first screenshot above.) You can also click on the “re-arrange” link to move them around via the drag and drop interface. The same can be said about the categories and the RSS feeds.
Each category can come with your choice of background color, further helping you manage your online bookmarks. Unfortunately, you are not able to adjust the width of any of these columns, so the bookmark names are severely limited in length. As it stands, you will always have seven columns/categories across the page. I would have liked more options on this front. It’s also very unfortunate that you cannot edit or delete your bookmarks in batches. Seeing how 43Marks comes preloaded with tons of bookmarks, it can be a pain removing all the ones you don’t need. Who uses Hi5 anymore?
As far as I can tell, all the links on your custom homepage are dofollow, so this site starts to look like a bit of a link farm too. I think it is in the best interest of 43Marks to switch all the links to nofollow instead.
Swapping Google for Yahoo!
Above your bookmarks is a search bar that uses Google by default. If you prefer to use Yahoo, you can do that by hitting the appropriate button on the homepage. This redirects you to a nearly identical site called 44Marks.com. Your account is persistent across the two sites, so the bookmarks exist on both domains.
Register for a Free Account
While I can certainly appreciate the utility of online bookmarks from 43Marks.com, the implementation needs a little work. As it stands, there is no way to batch delete the links, nor is there a way for you to import bookmarks from your preferred web browser. The RSS integration isn’t very useful and the lack of width adjustability for the categories hurts the utility as well. I personally prefer tags over categories for my bookmarks, but that’s a personal preference.
I think that 43Marks.com starts off in a good place, but it just needs a little work. It’s free, so you’re already getting more than your money’s worth.