Introducing the 2018 design for start.me

Introducing the 2018 design for start.me

The last design update to start.me has been quite a while. And that’s not a problem. Design changes are not a goal in itself. But we feel that a modern-day bookmark manager should look modern. So, we decided to update the looks of your favorite bookmarking app. We have been working on these changes for weeks now, so we are very excited that we can show them to you today!

Still the same bookmarking app

Most of the changes we made to the design have been purely cosmetic. The most important change you will find is on the top of your pages. The toolbar at the top used to have a dark, almost black color. We changed that and made it a lot lighter. This way, the toolbar becomes a less distracting which allows you to focus on the contents of your page more.

The 2018 design features a header/toolbar that blends in with the rest of the app a lot more

When you choose not to have a background image for your page, you will notice how the toolbars nicely blend with the rest of the page. Only when you start scrolling, you will notice that the toolbars are actually there. And that’s another change: for those who have enabled the submenu, this will no longer scroll out of view.

Editing and sharing pages

We noticed a lot of people have trouble finding out how to edit the title or background of a page. There has always been an edit button directly to the right of the page’s title. But apparently, it was too subtle. That’s why we made the button blue, just like our logo. It stands out more this way and makes it easier for you to find the page settings.

Suggested reading:  Improved GMail and Google Tasks widgets

Did you know you can share your pages with others? No? Well, don’t feel ashamed. A lot of people don’t know that. What’s worse is that some users accidentally share their pages with the world, without realizing it. To make sure people are aware of the sharing status of their page, we added a small indicator icon just in front of the page name. A lock means private, and a sharing icon means the page is accessible to others.

In the new design the page edit button in much more visible, just like the current sharing status

Do you like what you see?

Hopefully, you will like the new design just as much as we do. We feel the new style fits the current state of the art a lot better than our previous 2015 design. How do you like the changes? You will probably need to get used to it a little. But once the dust has settled, please let us know your findings!


Update, January 23rd: We received a lot of feedback. A lot of users requested a dark theme. We were really enthusiastic about the idea and started coding right away.

So here it is:Β a dark theme and custom theme colors.


(It's free and will only take a minute)

53 Replies to “Introducing the 2018 design for start.me”

  1. Yes, I like those changes. Start.me is the best portal since iGoogle. Now, if you could only bring about the return of the tea house fox and the other meomi themes that changed throughout the day, it would be perfect. πŸ˜€

  2. Im using a dark background image so the new white toolbar is far more distracting for me, an option to choose would be nice.

    1. Hi Todd. Actually, a dark theme has been on our todo list for a long while. This new design moves us one step closer.

      1. It was a productive Monday – I like the addition of the dark theme option. This should address the feedback you received over the weekend.

  3. How can a dazzling white header be less distracting than a darker one?

    It’s bugging the hell out of me!

    Please give your users the choice to decide, this is a rare bad move for you start.me.

      1. Yes I am using a dark background.

        I have a very bright apple display with very old tired eyes so dark themes work best for me.

        I know my kids & other young people like ultra bright settings but if your over 40 it’s just uncomfortable to use.

        Thanks for taking time to reply Michiel

          1. Yes the blue box around the pencil icon is terribly insulting, please remember that anyone who uses start.me will have some idea of technology

          2. Hi Pogo. I understand that you find it insulting. But please bear in mind we receive hundreds of support mails every week. And not everyone turns out to be as tech savvy as you say.

    1. Hi Mark. The search bar has actually always been there. Have you tried it? It is really convenient to quickly search for one of your bookmarks, not just to Google.

      1. I think Mark prefers the “search bar” to not float when scrolling down the page (I’m assuming this is new to this recent 2018 build). In all likelihood if the toolbar that includes the search box were less obtrusive (blended more with what Mark has for his start-page) then he wouldn’t mind the “search bar” floating that much. I’ve often thought for the past 2015 build how it would have been better for the stark white search box to blend in with the theme color of the toolbar as well actually. I’ve noticed in the past when focus was off the toolbar the search box did in-fact change from white to dark which was far better but that was always temporary. The goal should be to blend the toolbar with the users theme of choice as opposed to a stark contrast which in many cases will be the results when a color is selected that is static which is what we have with this current 2018 release. The previous 2015 build did a better job of blending with a users color scheme to be honest.

        1. Michiel – on further thought it occurs to me that by having the “toolbar” (header) float at the top of the page the vertical start-page real estate is reduced by the height of the “toolbar” (header) as the user scrolls through the page. By leaving the “toolbar” (header) static at the top of the page this results in freeing up vertical space on the page when scrolling up/down.

          Some may like the floating “toolbar” (header) however others may not for the reasons stated above.

          I would suggest you provide users with an option to have the “toolbar” (header) remain in place (static) on the page as an alternative to floating the “toolbar” (header) at the top of the page. I’ve learned via a long programming career myself that when it comes to software there is usually always a flip-side to perceived upgrades.

          The opportunity to provide feedback and your understanding and attention to users opinions is greatly appreciated.

          1. There are actually tens if not hundreds of such dilemmas. We try to keep the number of configuration options to a minimum, both to prevent complicating the user experience and to tie us down too much technically. Our goal is to have a pleasant user experience for all users, without too many promises on the details of the experiences, as that allows us to move forward as technology or esthetics evolve. iGoogle, as you might remember, offered tons of options, but I believe this extreme customizability eventually forced Google to shut it down. It was simply too hard for them to have iGoogle adapt to new user demands. Furthermore: every feature added has an upkeep price. You probably know that from practice. When this upkeep consumes a lot of time, this will slow down development of new features.

        2. Actually, the search bar is a very important part to both our app and our business model. The bar can be used to quickly find a bookmark. It also provides us with a means to exist and keep the basic service free. If there would be sufficient demand, we might be able to offer our PRO users the option to hide the search bar.

  4. The toolbar at the top used to have a dark, almost black color. We changed that and made it a lot lighter.

    In my very personal opinion, this goes in the wrong direction. If you want, leave this new lighter design, but let us choose a dark one as well. Think there’s people whose eyes are photosensible and you will be killing them with this dead white design.

    Sorry, I don’t like this. This is a step backwards to me.

  5. I am sorry to say I don’t care for any of the changes:

    1) The blue pencil icon and blue page indicator clash terribly with my background images/colors.
    2) The search bar – which used to be nice and subtle – now shows brightly colored favicons – again, more color clash.
    3) I use a mix of dark and light backgrounds; and in my opinion, the white background doesn’t look good with any of them.

    I’ve worked really hard to make my pages look nice – selecting backgrounds with muted colors, using softly shaded icons that don’t scream at you, and turning off the favicons. Now the top of each page looks cluttered and mismatched.

    I have been a huge fan of Start.me, but I’m really unhappy with the way my pages look now.

    1. Hi. Thank you for your clear explanation. Let’s see how we can improve on the design to help you reach equilibrium again.

  6. Wow. This is a huge change. For me, a giant leap backwards (dark backgrounds, always). At least until there are options to make things (colors) somewhat similar to they way they were. Depending on the changes under the hood, I know it’s not reasonable to keep things exactly the same forever. But please do not vastly change the look of everyone’s pages all at once (for example, from dark, transparent, fades to BRIGHT SOLIDS).

    Needs: Dark mode. At least.

    Wants: Colors options (for top bar, bottom fade). Transparency options. Able to make it look similar to previous design.

    1. Hi! There definitely are plans for a dark theme. Our resources are limited, so we decided to roll out these features bit by bit. If you like, I can show you our sketches for the dark theme.

      1. Better yet — simply return to what you had before where the header used to change colors to blend with the chosen background as you have in fact stated below was the case and what you have also stated would be an option that would make sense to provide again. Makes sense to me and frankly sounds like something that should have never been changed in the first place. An easy fix would be to return to the 2015 build perhaps. Your interest in improving start.me is appreciated and with that in mind I would respectfully suggest that you consider touching bases with users prior to making changes that remove options that existed previously and as such were most likely popular in the first place. Something to consider…..

        1. Hi. The feature to blend the header color with the background image was removed for technical reasons. At the scale we are currently operating, this feature was hard too run reliably. In the future, we would like to introduce the option to select a custom header color. When uploading a new background image, we might be able to suggest an appropriate header color as well.

      2. Thanks a ton for this blog, Michiel. And for reading and responding (caring) to respond to user’s concerns. It helps out a lot, and is much appreciated.

        It seems most posts on the redesign, mine included, are concerning a “dark mode”. There is an enormous amount of interest! I think we’d all love to see the sketches and plans (and an ETA if possible)! Please make a new blog post when there is more information.

        I’ve really enjoyed StartMe for many years now. Custom news feeds are especially invaluable these days, with the bombardment of … poor news sources. And when also presented in a beautiful way with something like StartMe, it’s an absolute no-brainer start page (or pinned permanent tab) for browsers. Thanks to the team.

        1. Hi. Actually, I’ve already started some initial work on the dark theme. I might even be able to extend it to a fully configurable header color, so that other colors (you like green, you like blue?) would be possible as well. My initial tests show it to be quite beautiful. More about it tomorrow or the day after.

          1. Testing the Dark Theme now. I find it (header) to be quite nice, actually, perfectly adequate for my needs. Can’t wait too see the evolution of the Dark Theme, applied to more of the interface. I wish the Search Bar (and any other light-colored elements) could be transparent, or controlled by something like Widget Transparency setting. Thanks again for caring about this issue, and quickly working to help us out!

  7. Adding my voice to the pile here: having a dark background for these kinds of pages is very common (dark background, lighter widget background with icons and dark text) and the header now being a forced very light grey with teal-blue theme is taking away from the freedom we’ve enjoyed so far with a dark and otherwise color-neutral theme.

    If I may suggest something: not only offer a dark theme, but also offer a theme that uses an automatic color based on the background image in use.
    Currently for our (Pale Moon) software portal’s background images on public pages I’m going to have to stick with light background images; that’s OK for now, but not ideal as I’d prefer to switch them around for variation based on the seasons.

    1. Actually, in the past the header used to change colors with the chosen background. It would indeed be nice to offer that as an option again. I’ll look into it. Interesting! Good suggestion!

  8. First and most important — Can you please provide a way to return to prior start.me builds? (if this is currently possible please post the method to do so ).

    Now to my feedback regarding the recent 2018 changes as of yesterday. I find that virtually all of your conclusions are frankly opposite of what you referenced were your goals for this current 2018 change to start.me.

    POINT 1 — Quote: “We changed that and made it a lot lighter. This way, the toolbar becomes a less distracting which allows you to focus on the contents of your page more.” — exactly the opposite!!

    You actually had in the past a header that changed colors with the chosen background — WOW!! – so that is by definition “LESS DISTRACTING”, yet you try to suggest that your change FROM THIS to a “lot lighter” theme color that cannot be changed at all by the user is somehow “less distracting” than what you had before?!? Sorry — this is simply lacking any level of rational thought.

    I have to ask in all honesty and with all due respect — how can you come to this conclusion at all in light of the information above? Just curious….

    You mention several times about plans for a dark theme or better yet how it would be nice to offer to change colors with the chosen background like you already had before. I would submit to you that what was already available should have remained — makes sense — and any changes be built onto that — again makes sense. You would not even need to add an optional “dark theme” that as you can see is desirable if you had retained the option to keep the “change colors with the chosen background” that was already in place.

    POINT 2 — Quote: “When you choose not to have a background image for your page, you will notice how the toolbars nicely blend with the rest of the page. Only when you start scrolling, you will notice that the toolbars are actually there. And that’s another change: for those who have enabled the submenu, this will no longer scroll out of view.”

    First of all, as we can see from numerous other user feedback provided the “toolbar” (top banner) in no way does “nicely blend with the rest of the page” in many cases absent a user that has a theme the is predominantly lighter (gray/teal-blue) color themes. It is common knowledge that if a color is static (not modifiable) as is the case now then darker theme colors will always be the primary way to go.

    So you really believe that a floating tab button (regardless of the small size) that persistently obscures elements of the lower-right corner of the start-page is not distracting? Again, if the goal is to be “less distracting” then your going in the wrong direction once again. And beyond this, you mentioned the advantage of an “enabled submenu” that will “no longer scroll out of view” (another floating function like the tab button). You do realize that these sub-menus are very rarely used, right? With that in mind, why would users tend to want this larger area enabled for one not to mention again how even the floating button tab is always at all times displayed and therefore obscuring part of the start-page which again is for the purpose of displaying a menu page that will as you must know rarely be used anyway.

    And lastly specifically in regards to the “cosmetic changes” — it appears the goal in part is to be “less distracting”, yet you make changes regarding editing buttons that are frankly more distracting by definition. You suggest that due to lack of users technical sophistication then editing buttons need to be more pronounced, in that regard I think you may be underestimating users who use Internet start-pages. Let me suggest to you that any user who is interested in designing their own start-page will generally be savvy enough to find edit buttons without them knocking our collective socks off.

    I have actually suggested, years ago — that you modify the start page to have just ONE BUTTON in the header (what you call toolbar) that would toggle editing functions from displayed to hidden. Everyone knows the word “Edit” and by clicking on the “Edit button” then all of these edit functions would display as they do now that are so-o-o-o distracting. My reply was that this was going to be implemented at some point, but nearly three years later we instead get changes that are clearly “more distracting” instead of “less distracting”. We still get the obnoxious “+ add widgets” expanding button at the bottom of columns when hovered and continually not only get the cluttered multiple editing function buttons in the header (toolbar) but in every one of the modules and/or widgets appear when hovered. In my opinion a start-page should be “locked” in state if not in “Edit” mode which would be toggled on/off with just one button easily identifiable via the “Edit” name on the button. Then not only would the start-page be far less “cluttered” and as such far “less distracting” but the edit functions could not be mistakenly changed. The way it is now a less sophisticated user (as you mentioned, i.e a child in the house) can move (drag) modules all over the page or possibly even find themselves deleting links unintentionally. By providing an “Edit” button that essentially “LOCKS” everything in place so no editing functions can be used (unless the “Edit” button were toggled) the start-page becomes much MORE SECURE not to mention have a much “cleaner” look. Again, when I suggested this I was told this was part of future plans. I am disappointed to see after all of this time, this is what we get!!

    How about posting a poll on my idea above to have a way to “lock” edit features so that not only will editing functions be hidden (in the “locked” state) and therefore provide a much “cleaner” start-page but would then by doing so provide a far more secure page as well. Again this can simply be accomplished with ONE “Edit” button that is self-explanatory by name which would toggle between a “locked” state and an “edit” state that would make all editing functions visible in the “Edit” state.

    Sorry for sounding off in such a critical manner, but I have to say I have been expecting more than these kind of frankly “backward” changes after all of these years and from what we see from feedback I’m not that far out of bounds.

    Now to my last point — ever since this new 2018 change was put in place yesterday — I have been having script issues which persists even when implementing a month-old backup profile. I am aware this issue is presumably unique to my environment but I am inclined to believe that this is not just coincidence. I have submitted request to look into these persistent “script busy” errors that require the script to be “stopped” in certain browsers and in turn causes the failure to render some elements of the start.me page correctly (Note: I am using the most current Java build).

    So with all of what I have referenced above and most importantly the script issues is the reason why I have asked IF there is NO WAY TO PROVIDE USERS A METHOD to go BACK TO the PREVIOUS START.ME BUILD then CAN YOU LOOK INTO PROVIDING THIS? — Since I feel this would likely help resolve the CRITICAL ISSUES I am getting with THIS NEW 2018 BUILD (at least if nothing else for testing purposes).

    Thanks for taking the time to read my feedback. I hope you consider at least some of what I have to say as I sincerely do prefer to keep using start.me and recommending it to others as I have up until now.

    1. Hi Alfred. Thanks for taking the time to express your ideas. There have been more requests for a dark theme, so that’s why I just launched an initial test with a new Dark theme option. Can you please give it a try and tell me what you think? Regarding your suggestions about the Edit page button and Lock feature: we actually have been running user tests and they consistently show that people have trouble finding the edit controls. A lot of users don’t know that it is possible to have multiple start.me pages. Hiding buttons does indeed make the app more attractive to the eye, but will also steepen the learning curve. It is a delicate balancing act. Finally, about the script issue: our 2018 theme update involves little to no scripting changes, so there might be some other reason. More in general: you might know we are a small organization with a small team. Our product is free to use, so that means our resources are rather finite. That’s why we are not able to offer advanced rollback features or gradual transitions to a new theme: as much as we would like to have such features, ther are simply to costly. At the moment we are investing quite a lot of our time in a very important project that will benefit all users, especially those who use start.me as a start page. Again, thank you for your thoughts and I hope you like the new Dark theme!

  9. I’d just like to echo others in their wishes for a dark theme or at the least an option to use the old dark header. I find the new light version very jarring. But thank you for the work involved, I’ve been using Start.me since moving to Firefox Quantum and I am finding it very handy….

  10. How do I get the Tabs Back. The Hamburger Menu is really pointless on a Desktop PC. You say they are there and they are there in the picture you posted, but I don’t have them. Have to use the Hamburger Menu to switch to a different page.

  11. Hey Michiel,

    A big thank you for listening, it’s the weekend but you went the extra mile to implement the dark theme early.

    The dark theme is a massive improvement!

    Further changes to be considered are if the “Show favicons for websites” is deselected the search bar favicon should also be removed.

    The blue box around the edit head icon is still an issue for me, how about this being removed for the pro version?

    Thanks again, I hope we haven’t all ruined your weekend

  12. Thank you so much, I thought it was me who had changed the header color and even reset windows 10 theme twice.

    Dark mode is so much better for the eye sight for working at night, the light color was way too bright for me

    All is good again, this is the best app for me, it really is that good

    Best regards

    Bruno

  13. Ive just tried out the dark theme plus the colour options, nice to see these implemented so quickly, Also noticed the blue pencil icon dissapears if you change the top bar colour, great work.

  14. I find the new toolbar takes lots of space espcially when you have many pages. The real estate is not optimized, and waste about 10% of the screen, when you have multiple pages.

    I would rather see

    1. Gather onto same line, the search toolbar and the page selector, instead of putting them on to two spearate lines.
    2. Ability to reduce the scale of the font.
    3. I do not get it between the “blue pencil” to edit the page, and the green plus to add contents, one IS on the left, the other on the right side.

    1. Hi Pascal. We actually did not make the toolbar any larger, we just changed the color. The list with pages you find in the toolbar can actually be disabled, if you like. It is a setting in your preferences. To change the scale of the fonts (and the rest of the site), have you tried the zoom feature in your browser? In Chrome you can reduce the size of all fonts by pressing Ctrl-Minus. Regarding the pencil and the plus. In user tests we noticed people were often looking for a tool to add something on the right, so that’s why the Plus is there. The pencil icon is positioned directly right of the page title, which we think is a logical place to look for tools to change the page or its title. Don’t you agree?

      1. Well, when it comes to logic ,with time I’m discovering that even logic is relative. These were my comments to feed your thoughts, if you think everything is right and logical, then I dunno why I should bother give feedback. afterall, we are just the end users. Personnally, I’ve ceased having multiple pages because I found it was wasting real estate in my page. Just an opinion.

  15. The background themes appear to not be working this morning (since adding the “startme.com” process to the application presumably to improve load-time among other things possibly).

    I have been using the “elegant background 17” theme for years. This is a dark theme with a wavy texture to the background that I like very much (I can attache a screen-shot of this background if you reply via my email account)..

    Please do not abandon this specific background theme and if you have please bring it back (I’m concerned that perhaps this is what has been done).

    Thanks. πŸ™‚

      1. Great news, I see the background themes are back again. πŸ™‚ — Thanks!!

        I was wondering, for the past week or more the some parts and in some cases the entire start page will very frequently refresh itself sometimes repeatedly in a short time frame before it settles down again. That is parts of the page will disappear and reappear (sometimes virtually a blank page with just the background before the page once again is rendered) which I assume is doing a refresh.

        Is there any way to stop this from happening — it is very bothersome to have the page disappear in part or whole while I’m navigating the page as a use it (sometimes I’m just about to open something and there it goes, the page in part or whole disappears momentarily to then get repainted again).

        I sure hope this problem which didn’t use to happen at all can be addressed.

        1. Hi Mike. It does sound like some sort of weird bug. Could you provide us with a video of what you are seeing? That might help in diagnosing.

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