The design choice for the future of web composition.

Safari 4 beta came out recently, and one of the big new features is a version of the Opera Speed Dial. It seems like blatant copy-catting to me, but I don't really mind; the more companies can steal from each other in tech wars, the better they become.

But it makes an interesting point about web design: Does your site succeed or fail when reduced to a thumbnail representation? This (the only accessable pic I could find, as Safari 4 prevents screenshots) shows how many sites, when reduced to thumbnails, all look the same. You can argue the Google map or the Wikipedia puzzle globe stands out as a graphic homepage, but otherwise these are all white sites with black scribbles. In fact, the most striking "speed dial" is the worthlessly non-loaded black picture.

I think that although websites clearly deal with composition and layout as blocky news sources, they haven't really dealt with their future reality: appealing to users at a glance, with nothing but a thumbnail.

I think this also raises an interesting market ideal for web browser developers: How will you support site-defined thumbnails for sites? I'm sure that, if given the chance, the NY Times, Yahoo, et al, will want to set their own icon, in the same way they choose their mini icon for their URL.


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