A Guide to Better Web Browsing

This article isn’t for all you Firefox using RSS fiends out there. If you’re already up to date on the best ways to surf the web then you’re probably better off skipping this post and checking out the site’s other content.

That being said, if you’re still using Internet Explorer and haven’t heard of RSS feeds and social bookmarking, the tips in this post will get you up to speed. The truth is most people don’t use the web as effectively as they should. Nearly all my friends outside the engineering world (and many within it) are totally ignorant of these completely free technologies that can save you loads of time. If you’re a person who works on a computer all day, this is a no brainer.

Use A tabbed Browser

Do you ever get annoyed by having too many open windows? Using tabs completely solves this problem. It allows you to open multiple web pages within a single browser window. This is a huge time saver. There are many reasons to upgrade, but this is the biggest. I started using Firefox last year and I’ll never go back. You can download Firefox here for free. Installation is automatic, takes less than 5 minutes, and automatically imports your IE bookmarks.

Another great thing about Firefox is that tons of plugins are available. These are add-ons that let you do things like download several files at once or use your browser as a dictionary. For the sake of simplicity I’ll let you discover these on your own.

Use RSS Feeds

Reading multiple websites can be quite cumbersome. For each new page you have to find your bookmark, click on it, and wait for the page to load. Using RSS is an easy way to streamline your web surfing.

RSS works by using a feed reader to compile content from all the sites you read in one central place. With your feed reader you can read all the headlines from the NY Times, ESPN, and other favorites sites without having to move between pages.

There are many alternatives, but I use GoogleReader, and I’ve read it’s one of the best. If you have a Gmail account there is no reason not to. There are also equivalent readers for Yahoo and MSN and numerous stand alone applications like NewsGator and Bloglines. You can also incorporate RSS into your Google, Yahoo, or MSN home pages. Once you start using RSS, it eliminates the barrier between you and information you want. You’ll find yourself reading more in less time and finding new sites.

If you’re interested in RSS, but aren’t completely sold yet, check out this list of reasons why RSS puts control back in the hands of the user by Copyblogger. Hopefully once you start using RSS, you’ll subscribe to my feed by clicking on the pretty orange RSS button at the top of the sidebar.

Social News and Bookmarks

Google is still the best option when you want to find something specific, but what about those times when you want to find something interesting, but you aren’t sure what? For this purpose social news and bookmarking sites are great.

The way social news works is that users submit stories that other users have the option of voting on. If you go to the popular pages of these sites you can find the items that other users found most valuable. This puts the power in the hands of the people. Each popular story is something that a real person enjoyed, not a computer program. The content of these sites includes everything from cool videos to breaking news.

My favorite social news site is Reddit. Another extremely popular site is Digg, which is technologically oriented. If you’re feeling adventurous, try StumbleUpon, which lets you to choose a category and sends you straight to a new site. I can’t tell you how many cool things I’ve found this way that I never would’ve otherwise.

The other side of social media is bookmarking. Sites like del.icio.us allow you to save all the pages you want and label them with helpful tags. With del.icio.us you can easily organize and save many more pages than you can with regular bookmarks. The del.icio.us popular page displays the items saved by the most people.

To help my readers share my articles with others, I’ve placed links at the bottom of each post to make it easier to save them to Reddit, del.icio.us, and StumbleUpon.

Well, I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you. This is more than enough information to send you on your way to funner faster web browsing. If you follow the suggestions I’ve made in this post you’ll be web savvy in no time.