The promising redesign of start.me is now live

The promising redesign of start.me is now live

Last week we announced the promising redesign of our online service: a new header, new menus, a faster and easier way to add content. We invited our users to go see for themselves. We listened to your feedback, we checked and double checked our code, and now it’s ready. As of today, you can enjoy start.me in a modern, sleek design. In this article, we reveal the truth about this entire redesign operation. Is not just about aesthetics. There’s a lot more at stake.

Our promising redesign: what has changed?

Quick impression of our promising redesign.
Quick impression of our promising redesign.

At first glance, the changes we’re introducing today are just cosmetic. We’ve made the header a bit less cramped and better visible for users with disabilities. We also feel it’s more pleasing to the eye, honestly.

We’ve lost some clutter in the form of buttons or submenus. Wherever we could, we managed to reduce at least one click to change the setting of any widget or page. You can notice this especially in the Pages menu, and in the User menu.

A new Share button has appeared, as well as a separate option with the name of the page you’re on. The rest is left untouched.

If this were everything, you’d correctly wonder what the fuss is all about.

New: the Dark theme

Brand new feature: Dark Theme.
Brand new feature: Dark Theme.

Well, there is at least one very obvious change many of our users have longed and asked for: the introduction of a Dark theme.

A Dark theme isn’t just a cool way to display your information, your bookmark widgets, and other data. It is also more legible in dimly lit environments, because of the high contrast between text and background. It’s supposed to be less straining to the eyes, even though the verdict isn’t out yet. At any rate, dark themes strip away all distractions and almost all colors, to make you focus on the task at hand. No wonder that all tech giants, Apple (Dark Mode), Microsoft (finally) and Google (in the Chrome store) offer this option to their users.

So we’ve also made it happen. Now you can click the User icon and toggle the dark theme. It’s that easy.

The switch will strip all backgrounds from all pages: both from the pages itself, and from the widgets. All bookmarks and widgets will function as normal. Pictures and favicons will retain their color, there’s no change there.

New regions and language options

Ready for the world
Ready for the world

start.me is used all over the world. There are users on every continent, in every country, in every major city, but not yet on every desktop or mobile device. As we consider it our mission to empower all people to navigate the internet more efficiently, we know there’s still some work to do. With an extensive network of translators, mostly volunteers, we endeavor to localize start.me so it will become a home for literally everyone online. We aim to be a safe and reliable launching pad, a simple to understand, personal safe, a private house online, accessible from everywhere and forever free.

And you shouldn’t have to speak English to enjoy the benefits of your own start page. It’s a tall order, we know.

This is how we plan to get there: with the redesign, we’ve added new regions that previously were absent, like Hungary, Philippines, Pakistan, Romania and Turkey. There are a lot more regions to follow. We also plan to further localize start.me by allowing more than one language for each country. We’ve added Frech for our Belgium and Canadian users, and Hindi for our Indian users, and there are more to come.

More news feeds, more categories

We’ve also added over 2.500 news feeds, which makes the total of available news feeds no less than 6.500. Feeds and widgets are now categorized in the following main categories:

  • Business & Finance
  • Entertainment
  • Lifestyle
  • News
  • Sports
  • Tech & Science
  • Web Services & Other widgets

Within each main category you can filter feeds and widgets by sub-categories. For example: within the Sports section you can now filter feeds by individual sports, like Baseball, Soccer or Tennis.

Easier navigation

Easier background selection.
Easier background selection.

When we started our work to redesign start.me we didn’t just focus on the upcoming localization efforts. We also wanted to bring the user options at least one click closer to our users. Keep it simple!

So we’ve made it easier to change the background color of your pages. You can click and see the result immediately.

We’ve also made it easier to toggle between opening links in the same window or a new window, and hiding or showing the pages bar. Oh, and between the already mentioned Dark and regular theme.

Click the User icon, and toggle away! 

Improved sharing

Promising redesign: share button.
Promising redesign: share button.

One final feature of our promising redesign is the brand new Share button. At the moment your pages on start.me are not shared with other users. The default option will remain locked and private. With the share button, you get the option to make your page public for anyone with the link, for search engines and finally for your trusted team members only.

We hope to build and improve upon this feature, to make start.me more accessible and useful for teams and businesses. Some of our upcoming improvements include: making it possible to share pages with individual users, not just with a team, and sharing pages with the start.me community.

Why should we not learn from each other?

Good or bad, we’d love to hear your thoughts about these improvements. Find us on Twitter (@startme) or write to support@start.me. Or leave a comment!

Stefan van Dierendonck

Stefan van Dierendonck

For many years Stefan has been active as a blogger, building and maintaining his own and other websites. He is also the author of two well-received novels. Wherever possible, he tries to combine modern technology with literary or at least pleasantly legible content.


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27 Replies to “The promising redesign of start.me is now live”

  1. Hi Stefan… how we change the page theme/color option? Before you could go to Edit page & layout and there was an option for Light or Dark. This would change the header to either a dark or light mode depending on what you selected there. With this new release I don’t see that option anywhere. If that has been removed then how do we edit the top (nav bar) on each page?

    1. Hi jdpierce21, thanks for asking! You’re correct, with the introduction of our new Dark theme you can toggle Dark mode from the User icon, so we didn’t feel it necessary to be able to apply Dark or Light theme on a page level anymore. We wanted to simplify things. Does the new Dark theme do the trick for you? Please let us know.

      1. Thanks for the reply. While I do like the dark theme and plan on maybe using it full-time but for now I am not using it. There’s a ton of pages, backgrounds, text, etc. for me to change to be able to use it. So, for now, it does not work for me.

        Thanks,
        Joe

        1. We’re sorry to hear this, Joe. The Dark theme is intended to override the many colors and images you can choose for your pages and widgets to make them more visible, not less. It should work with any page. If this doesn’t work, please make a screenshot and send it to our support section (support@start.me). Thanks in advance!

          1. Hi Stefan — I’m replying to your reply to Joe (it seems that replies get mixed up and don’t seem to trail the correct post in at least some cases so I’m noting this). You and your support team are doing a great job at keeping in touch with your users — so please know that we users sincerely appreciate the attention you and your team make the effort to do this and so please do continue to keep up the great work in this regard!!

            That said, I have a question: Does your support team test all widgets for compatibility with color coordination with the new “Dark” theme?

            By doing this prior to release the start.me team would avoid unhappy users involving problem widgets that do not render well in the “Dark” theme. I’m thinking perhaps this is not done (as I’ve sent you a personal message example of a Widget that has the black text obscured when rendered in the new “Dark” theme). Just a constructive suggestion on my part with no intention meant to be overly critical. 🙂

          2. Good to know, AI, that you like our efforts! We’ll try to keep up with you! 🙂 Well, with regard to testing: yes, we test the new versions we’ve come up with, but I’m afraid we sometimes miss a widget or two. We know it shouldn’t happen, but I’m afraid we’re only human and our time and resources are limited. That’s why we also rely on the feedback of our users: whenever you detect a problem, please let us know and we’ll try to correct things as soon as possible. So, keep those suggestions coming!

      2. The drawback using a user “global” user preference setting for the dark theme option is that this “global” setting will impact all browsers using start.me so all browser will necessarily use the same theme setting making it is impossible for same start.me user to have some browsers use a dark theme and other browser not use a dark theme.

        1. Hi, If you want, you can still choose a black/dark background color for individual pages (aka browser tabs). Keep the global dark mode set to OFF and click Pages menu > Edit Page > Background > Select color (dark).

    1. Hi Janet, We’re sorry to hear that you find the buttons and search bar too large now. We’ve already diminished their size in response to the feedback in beta, but we understand they’ll take some getting used to. Hope you still like our service, though!

      1. I agree w/ Janet. Too big and tall – it’s the most valuable real estate on the page! Don’t use Share at all. The page buttons in the upper left were better as they were before.

        1. Hi Jim, we’re sorry you don’t like the size of our new header. As you know, we offer our basic service for free, and we intend to keep it that way. The only way to make this happen is by creating other sources of income. We wouldn’t survive by subscriptions alone, and that’s why our new header is so important. That being said: we’ve heard your feedback and created this workaround: you can add “?embed=1” to the start.me page URL and it will render the page without any header.

          1. Thanks, Stefan. My main feedback was to reduce the height of the header, not to eliminate all together with “?embed=1”. Regarding the page controls in the upper left, my main need is to be able to change pages, ideally w/ 1 click, and not to edit pages. It was nice when the Pages Bar was part of the non-scrolling header, which it now isn’t. Since the Share button is associated w/ pages, does it need its own button, when it already is part of page editing on the left?

          2. Hi Jim, Thanks for taking the time to reply to my answer. I realize that you prefer the header to be smaller, and not to lose it completely. If you still want to be able to change quickly, you could try a new widget with links to your other start.me pages, with or without the header. I’ve called mine ‘start.me without borders,’ and it works perfectly. The new share button is supposed to simplify things for all users. Before our redesign, you had to click a very small icon next to the page name to share it, which made it a bit of a puzzle. Now at least there’s no confusion. Plus, we plan to use the Share button to improve our functionality in the future. So stay tuned, we’re not done yet!

  2. I like the new Dark theme.

    What I would most like now is easier/quicker ways to organise & move shortcuts. Maybe theses abilities exist but I’m not finding them or they are not easy

    – Ability to EASILY move a shorcut to a widget on another page … I think this one is really essential. Lack of it makes me look at other organisers.

    – Ability to sequence shorcuts within a widget …. maybe its possible now?

    – A suggestion on the current ‘Move Widget’ to another page … put the name of the widget you have selected to move in the header of the box on the top right where you select the To page … would confirm you are about to do what you wanted to do!!

    These would make all the difference to me.

    Thanks

    Chris

    1. Hi Chris, Great to hear you like our Dark theme. Your suggestions about improving our options to move bookmarks and widgets are handy. We’ve made tickets to add your first and third suggestions to our app. As soon as these new features are ready (probably within one month), we’ll let you know. We didn’t understand your second suggestion. What do you mean by ‘to sequence shortcuts within a widget’? It’s possible to change the order in many ways, for example by drag and drop or by opening the context menu and choosing ‘Sort bookmarks.’ Please let us know if this helps. At any rate: thanks for contributing!

  3. Looks like with the changes my weather widget no longer works. I was using Weatherunderground and had to delete it. Now you can’t add it back. I looked at the Dark Skies widget but there is no way to edit to anything but Boston. Really like the old way of seeing weather graphically….Sad

    1. Hi Jerry, unfortunately our weather data provider (Weather Underground) decided to cancel their API, so we had to make a switch to a new weather API. We’re still working on improving it. On the bright side of things: the weather data should be more up-to-date now than before.

  4. How do we disable the floating header? If it stayed at the top it would be fine, I just don’t want it floating.

    1. Hi John, Thanks for reaching out with your comment. We won’t change the floating aspect of our header, but we’ve made it possible to eliminate it altogether. You can add “?embed=1” to the start.me page URL and it will render the page without any header.

  5. The search bar and buttons at the top are too large and I don’t like them follow when scrolling page down. I have 13″ display and 1366×768 resolution. Bar and buttons takes too much my display area. I will look for another service like start.me

    1. Hi Beikismet, Sorry to hear this, but there is a workaround if you don’t like the header at all. You can add “?embed=1” to the start.me page URL and it will render the page without any header.

      1. I did that. Since I have several pages I also had to make all the pages bookmarks to to be able to move another pages. And copy this to all my pages. Maybe better this way. But I still don’t like this change. I like start.me to be so that it don’t waist valuable screen space.

        1. Hi Beikismet, We understand that you really don’t like the changes we’ve made to the header; thank you for letting us know. We hope you believe that we don’t make these changes lightly and that we’re sorry to cause you this trouble. We intended the new design to be more accessible to everyone, more beautiful and useful to look at and, in the end, more appealing to current and future users. That’s why we felt we had to make these changes. We also know the workaround isn’t perfect, but thanks for trying to work with it.

        2. Beikismet – The URL parameter the start.me team has provided does clearly optimize the “valuable screen space” that you correctly reference as important so that is a viable alternative in this respect as I see it.

          However that said, while most page setting/modification options remain available via the right-click context menus thankfully — It appears to me that the user (log-in) preference settings (provided by the far-right header button) are no longer accessible as a result of removing the header entirely using this URL parameter option. So while users may not need access to the user ID preferences that often, still options like toggling the “Dark” theme on/off or “Open links in new window” etc are not accessible as far as I can tell by using this URL parameter alternative. So this is where I would consider this optional URL parameter to be an issue.

  6. I have been using the 3-day Weather Widget supported by AccuWeather which works on the basis of your Geo-position that doesn’t always get your position correct all the time (perhaps 80-85% accurate) which is a Weather Widget you might consider trying (I like the graphic design and don’t mind the occasional misdirection).

    1. Thanks for your suggestion. We’ve chosen to go with another provider: Openweathermap.org. In the new Weather widget, you should be able to select from at least 200.000 cities in the world. Let’s hope that’s enough!

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