Unsurprisingly, I have quite a few bookmarks, and also as unsurprisingly, I like to keep them organized. For the past year or so, I’ve been using del.icio.us to do this – where the “Clicking” links in the leftmost sidebar are from – and I don’t hate it. In fact, I quite like the “links for you” feature because my friends save neat things for me. But I don’t use it to its fullest potential because I don’t like navigating the site itself and I don’t seem to get relevant search results from it. In fact, half the time I do a search, del.icio.us serves me a totally blank page. So when someone I respect as much as Thomas Hawk reviews a different service favorably, I take a look.
To be clear about my bias before my review: I am impatient, so pages need to load quickly, and I am easily distracted by shiny objects, so the UI cannot be cluttered or awkward. Searching must be fast and must produce consistently relevant results. The act of saving a bookmark needs to take as little time as possible; I am usually saving something because I want to come back to it later, which means I don’t have time Right Now to seduce an ugly, slow tool.
Ma.gnolia looks good and works even better. There is plenty of white space, the color scheme does not offend me, and pages load quickly. The icons make sense and are unobtrusive, and I like the font Georgia a whole lot. The home page layout displays several relevant groupings of links, especially my most recent bookmarks as well as the most recent bookmarks from my contacts. Searching is fast – I imagine because the database is significantly smaller than del.icio.us’ yet – and the results are relevant.
The offsite experience is similarly good, due to fast, well-designed bookmarklets. I like that there is even a bookmarklet for just saving a link so you can tag and rate it later. Quite a bit of thought was given to the act of collecting bookmarks in the field, which, as an obsessive collector, I appreciate.
There are other features I haven’t explored much, like Discussions and Groups, because I don’t have the time or inclination to interact with random strangers, but I imagine these are very appealing to less crotchety, more “Web 2.0” folks.
In summary, I’m not ready to give up del.icio.us because I have quite a few contacts there who share interesting links with me, but I prefer the experience of Ma.gnolia and look forward to using it as it grows and improves.