5 Ways Site Pinning Will Transform Websites
Let's begin with a quick overview of site pinning. It's a very simple concept and given how the walls between Windows and software applications have been falling over the years, Site Pinning is one of those concepts that you see and think, "How did this not happen sooner?"
Basically, users can drag a site they visit in Internet Explorer 9 to the Windows Taskbar, their desktop or the Start menu and pin that site there so they can easily return. The inner workings of this functionality involve the creation of a .website extension for a shortcut. Windows associates the Web address of the pinned site as the start URL for the specific .website file and creates a unique AppID based on the URL.
Here are five ways Pinned Sites might end up transforming the way people interact with the Web:
1. The Walls Between the PC and the Web Are Coming Down
If the walls aren't coming down they're at the very least starting to show some cracks. Think about it, for as long as most of us have been using the Web the process has gone something like this: 1) Turn on or wake up PC, 2) log on to Windows, 3) open Web browser 4)type in address of site or use bookmark. That seems like a lot of steps for a medium that's supposed to deliver instant information.
We all know that Internet access isn't restricted to PCs and laptops anymore, and to be honest getting online from the phone you carry with you everywhere you go is a lot easier. But the PC has the better user experience, especially when it comes to graphics and video. Thanks to Pinned Sites in Internet Explorer 9, websites are now PC applications. They still have to access the Internet and download their content, but the PC is closer to the information terminal we need it to be and the browser itself as a UI is taking a back seat.
The visual customizations available for Pinned Sites aren't going to overwhelm many people at first, but this is just the beginning. Yes, we've been able to customize start pages and news and the appearance of web pages for a long time. With Pinned Sites in Internet Explorer 9 websites start to take on a personality of their own. Once a site is pinned by a user the site's back and forward buttons take on the color of the site's logo. The logo also appears on the browser itself. And speaking of the logo, that's how the pinned site appears on the Windows Taskbar, as a logo.
You can see an example of how this was done with the CNN website on MSDN.
As a developer you're in the business of building sites and applications that reside on the Web. The ability to put your company or product's logo right on the Windows Taskbar or Start menu might not excite you, but make sure you show someone in marketing.
3. Task Links
Here's an easy way developers can make the most out of Pinned Sites. Once a user pins a site to the taskbar they can navigate to certain parts of that site through the Task links that appear in the Taskbar.
The Windows Team Blog has an example using USA Today's special report on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Users can follow the Task links to help navigate the special section. Think of how useful a Task link to the Buy Now page could be for anyone who has an e-commerce website.
4. Don't Forget the Applications
We've talked about how Pinned Sites will transform websites, but let's keep in mind that an awful lot of us use Web-based applications on a daily basis. A Pinned Site that is actually a Web application allows the application users to launch and use the site much more like a desktop application.
The Task links can make it easier to navigate Web-based applications; the customization will help with branding the user interface. There are some interesting possibilities now, but what's going to be possible as the idea of Pinned Sites evolves gets us plenty excited.
And that brings us to No. 5:
5. There's a Lot of Potential Here
As the walls between the operating system, the Web and applications continue to disappear there will be a number of interesting possibilities. Pinned Sites are only the beginning, and if developers take advantage of the technology now and end users get accustomed to this shift in thinking, the possibilities will only grow.
Take advantage of the technology now and it will pay off for all of us in the near future.
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