by Mielle Sullivan, Janus Networks

Last week I found out about Vysr’s Firefox extension RoamAbout and it made me excited. Why? Because finally I discovered a highly-customizable toolbar to bring me the best of the internet whatever site I am on. RoamAbout widgets are mini windows to the web.

RomAbout, is a vertical “shelf” that lives on the far right side of your browser. It houses widgets of your choosing from a variety of popular websites including Wikipedia an YouTube. Using RoamAbout, you can look up a term or watch a video without having to navigate away from the page you are reading.

So far, RoamAbout has done more to facilitate my browsing than any other toolbar or plugin or bookmarklet. In fact, I hope the amount widgets available for RoamAbout increases and eliminates the need for me to download any more browser extensions. As Doriano Carta said in his article about RoamAbout, “At first glance, one might think this is just another browser plugin or extension but it’s far more than that. Providing access to apps and services, no matter where you are online, is an innovative process.”

RoamAbout makes websites truly portable. It can do for reference, video even shopping sites what RSS feeds did for news sites – provide a portal for users without them actually having to visit the site. I think RoamAbout or something very similar to it will catch on with a lot of users and change the way we surf, or stay put, on the web.

The future of the web is user- rather than site-centric. Thus the killer websites of the future will be portable or at least have a portable component. Designers, start building your widgets because users want the best of your information, but not necessarily the whole interface.

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