With Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) (news, site) now in wide distribution, we thought it a good time to talk about a few ways that with a little bit of applied knowledge you can save some of your valuable time. Come, take a few minutes to tinker with us.
Exploring the Explorer
But given that so many people are sitting behind it day in and day out, it's fair that a few tips for smarter usage be passed around.
1. Smaller: Slicing up the Web
Web pages are like so passé. Somewhere between RSS feeds and getting an email that a page has been updated, Web Slices allow you to keep a distant eye on one portion of a Slice-enabled web page.
If the content on that Slice is updated, its entry in your Favorites bar will go bold and flash to indicate the change. By adding slices to your own sites -- see the MSDN tutorial here using hAtom microformat and Web Slice components -- you can add another level of interaction and stickiness to them.
If you're using IE8 as you read this, put your mouse over the "Most Popular" articles list in the top right corner of this page. We've Web Slice-enabled that list as well as our Industry Events Calendar.
One important note is that IE8's Web Slice technology supports Authenticated Web Slices. Yup, there's a security model that supports authentication for slice tracking. Learn more here.
Like this stuff? It is a pretty cool concept, if still a bit young -- we're sure the tools will evolve to some interesting points. Kudos to the IE8 team for this time saver. And if you want to poke around further, a list of Slice-enabled sites is available here.
Note: If you actually are annoyed by the Web Slices behavior, you can easily turn off the little pop-up buttons under Settings. See this tutorial for details.
2. Faster: Accelerate Task Completion
Accelerators help users interact with web content in more ways and save copying details into another site to track down further information.
Addresses can instantly be viewed on a map, foreign text can instantly be translated, text can be quoted into a blog or an interesting link twittered. Install your favorite Accelerators then select the target text or object, right-click and choose the Accelerator action.
If you want to create your own Accelerator, then you need to create and register an XML file, there's a full article on doing this here.
Some of our favorites are:
- Define with Wikipedia
- Google Maps Look-up
- Share on Facebook
- Shorten with Bit.ly
- Share it with Shareaholic
Web Accelerators -- Complete Tasks More Quickly, Add Browsing Richness
3. Maximizing: We're Better Together
Accelerators and Slices are probably the biggest features of IE8, combined they can be used as a serious tool for keeping visitors engaged on a site.
eBay is one of the early exploiters of the technology with an Accelerator for finding items that you are interested in on the eBay site and you can then use Web Slices to follow the auctions without having to check your email or keep watching the auction page. eBay even has a dedicated microsite explaining how users can leverage new IE8 functionality for optimal shopping.
Combining Accelerators and Web Slices -- eBay Goes Hook, Line and Sinker
4. Expanding: Similar Sites Come to You
If you visit a web site, but it doesn't quite have the information or content that you're after, you can try finding similar places using the Suggested Sites feature.