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Everyone who uses the Internet uses bookmarks.  Anyone who uses the bookmaking features of a web browser has a massive list of unorganized sites.  Show any normal person and watch their eyes widen.  You don’t need to explain what it is, just start using it and they will ask you.  Explain it and they will want it.  They won’t believe that such a great service exists and nobody told them.

Delicious is for everyone.  Bookmarking is something that everyone already does, it’s easy to use, and it’s immediately useful.

The reason that Delicious didn’t make it to normal people is because Yahoo never packaged it in a way that a normal person could understand.  Go to and try to determine what’s going; it’s impossible.  You would never think that Delicious is a bookmarking service for YOU.  It looks like a site to find new interesting sites, an activity that is popular among geeks.

The entire product category is called Social Bookmaking.  There is nothing less social than bookmarking a site for YOUR future reference.  The concept doesn’t make sense to a normal person.  Delicious bookmarks are public by default, which at first would be weird for a normal person.  The trick is to lead with the value proposition of a personal, organized bookmaking system, available anywhere.  Describing it as a social bookmarking tool leads with the one piece of Delicious that they are least likely to be comfortable with.

I have said before that the formula for creating an application for normal people is to let a technology marinate for 2 years and then dumb it down 100%.  The bookmarking features of Delicious are pretty simple.  In fact, they are even simpler than Google’s Bookmaking service.  Now they need to dumb down how they present themselves and how to get started.  Stop confusing people

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with a site discovery application, stop pushing the social features, and focus on creating a site with a clear value proposition: A personal, organized, online bookmaking tool so bookmarks aren’t trapped in the browser.

Could someone else swoop in with a simpler product to capture the market?  Maybe, but I doubt it.  You still need the installed base of geeks who have vetted the service to tell their friends about it. Despite the fact that they have dropped the ball for years now, because of their userbase, Delicious is still in the best position to bring online bookmaking to the masses.

Delicious is Yahoo’s biggest failure.  I don’t know how a company full of smart people could have overlooked their most valuable acquisition.  Then again, that’s the story of Yahoo.  Acquiring companies and then failing to leverage them.

The semantic web is the holy grail in the search engine wars.  How do you beat Google? Have thousands of people describe web pages instead of scanning keywords, put those sites into categories, and point to which is the most popular.   Yahoo has this with Delicious and it should be their top priority to integrate that rich data set into search engine results.  Their second priority should be to broaden the demographic of the userbase so more pages in different subject areas are tagged.  I find myself using Delicious as a search engine quite often.  The interface is too confusing for your average person, but the results are excellent.

I’m not saying that integration would be easy, and they did make an attempt at the beginning of the year.   I’m sure there are many reasons why this is much more difficult than it seems, and a challenge that the Delicious product team has likely rammed their head into the wall to figure out.  Despite this, it is the single most valuable asset that Yahoo holds that Google does not.  If I were them, I would be focusing on that instead of a merger with AOL.

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