As fringe social networks like Instagram and Foursquare continue to peak, it’s become increasingly obvious that a platform to unify our online identity is more and more necessary. For many of us, the Internet is home to our scattered portfolio of creative work, we just need a way to tie it all together.
Enter the personal homepage. Within the last year or so, sites like Flavors.me, Card.ly, and About.me have taken off, touting their ability to not only collect your various Web odds and ends, but do it with eye-catching graphics, creative typography, and endless customizations. They are at once professional and personal services and an incredibly simple solution to the dreaded f-word that happens to so many Web application lovers: Fragmentation.
But what happens when these personalized landing pages step outside the box? By and large they are supposed to solve the problem of too much Internet presence, not add to it. So would such a service be asking for trouble? Flavors.me doesn’t think so, and a massive site revamp launching today proves it.
“Flavors.me allows you to create one Website that best represents your,” says CEO Jonathan Marcus. “What sets it apart is the degree to which we allow people to integrate, stylize, and then visualize their content. The new version is another big step in that direction.”
Changes to multimedia content
First, the basics. New Flavors.me will feature new inline imager galleries so you can browse photos via a lightbox pop-up. You can also choose to see this in an automated slideshow. Users have the option to automatically import their Flickr uploads so that the built-in photographs are continually being pushed to the site.
“It’s great for photographers, videographers,” says Marcus. “It’s a big step for them to showcase their content.”
As you’d expect from a Flavors.me upgrade, the built-in customizations are getting a revamp as well. All users will now have access to some 200 different font for all the text you create as well as the header. Free subscribers will have access to “some five or six” new layouts, and premium users can double that number. In total, there will be 17 layouts to choose from.
Marcus also mentions that some 25 or so requested features from the last year have been added.
Subtle tweaks and augmented features are all well and good, but Flavors.me is taking some big, bold steps with its new Social Streams. These sites typically aren’t used to browse through user profiles; you’re usually linked in from someone, although there’s often a StumbleUpon-like option to send you shooting through the community. “A content consumption experience will be there now,” says Marcus.
The application is something like the Tumblr dashboard but with a myriad of filters at your disposal. Content from the users you follow will show up here, and you can segment by what type of content (i.e., “show me Instagram photos from everyone,” or “show my everything from 3 people, or “show me Last.fm posts from 10 people”).
And the primary reason the site is able to support this type of feature is because of its heavy integration with other social applications, Marcus tells us. You can pull from 35 different services, which he says is more than any other site of its nature. This is the leg Flavors.me has to stand on, what makes it different from the Facebook News Feed or Twitter stream. On those sites, users haven’t flocked there in order to collect and link in their other Web activity—which is why people took to Flavors.me (and sites like it). So its Social Stream is guaranteed content from these sites, and fewer of the superfluous updates that plague competitors.
In true landing page nature, the visual quality won’t suffer. Videos and photos will be high-def and full resolution. The site will also be a great outlet for music discovery, and you won’t need to be a member of the specific service popping up in the Social Stream in order to listen to what another user has posted. The application pulls in the music and you can directly play the song within the stream. It will automatically go to the next song someone has posted until you choose to stop listening.
More than a landing page, less than a social network
This is all a lot of change, but you can be comforted by the fact that upon login you won’t be ushered to the Social Streams. You’ll still be dropped off at your content (although Marcus notes this is “at least for now”).
“To aggregate content and put it in a singular stream and organize it by time and everything is a really big endeavor,” he says. “I don’t think anyone since FriendFeed has tried to aggregate content from this many sources but we’re showcasing it in a very different, visual way.”
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