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Yahoo Redesigns Home Page; Does It Matter?

Yahoo took the wraps off a redesigned homepage yesterday. At first glance, it looks a lot like the old one.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company's previous Web facade (as seen in the top image at right) remains the default design at yahoo.com. It consists of the Yahoo logo above a small Web-search form, a left-hand column linking to various Yahoo destinations, a series of boxes grouping other online offerings (such as Yahoo's e-mail and instant-messaging services, news headlines, top searches and marketplace listings) and a large ad.

old_yahoo.jpg

new_yahoo.jpg

Its new home page (seen in the lower image), and available through a "try it now" link on the old page, has the Yahoo logo next to a bigger Web-search form, a left-hand column linking to various Web destinations on Yahoo and elsewhere, a series of boxes grouping other online offerings (such as news headlines, top searches and personal-finance tips) and a large ad.

The biggest change is that left-hand column of links. As a post on Yahoo's corporate blog explains, Yahoo is giving up on the idea of building a Web portal around its own services:

You can easily choose from a dashboard of more than 65 apps to add directly to your homepage, including different email providers (AOL, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail), best of breed content sites (Barron's, NPR, omg!, USA Today), popular social networking sites (Facebook and MySpace), and dozens of others. These apps let you preview, interact with, or navigate to your favorite sites from one easy check-in point.

That seems like the smart, if not original, thing to do -- AOL's home page also offers access to third-party sites but is much more cluttered, while Google's iGoogle personal page allows you to add outside content through add-on "gadgets." Some users, however, have already reported problems trying to connect to other sites through Yahoo's new page. (As for Microsoft's fossilized MSN.com.... seriously, what year is this, 1998?)

But I don't know whether Yahoo's users will take the time to customize the new home page to take advantage of its added flexibility. When's the last time you bothered to tweak a Web portal's options? In my case, that would be at least a year back, maybe three.

For that matter, does the concept of the home page even matter? Tabbed browsing, in which you can easily view and switch among multiple pages in a single browser window, and the "RSS" updates published by many pages each reduce the need for a Web portal that could compile content from separate sites. And new browsers like Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 de-emphasize the entire home-page concept in favor of dynamic new-window or new-tab pages that present shortcuts to the sites you visit most often or have visited most recently. By default, Chrome and Safari's toolbars don't even feature a home-page button.

Does Yahoo's new look do anything for you? Could any new homepage design make a difference to your everyday Web experience? Have at it in the comments...

By Rob Pegoraro  |  July 22, 2009; 11:57 AM ET
Categories:  Digital culture , The Web  
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Comments

@Rob: Does Yahoo's new look do anything for you?

Just checked. No. As new and exciting as the Zune.


@Rob:Could any new homepage design make a difference to your everyday Web experience?

Yes, it's still possible, but not something worth seeking. It may happen organically at some point though.

Posted by: JkR- | July 22, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I suppose that I need to see what some of the free portal sites would do for me, but my home page for several years has been a Web page that is nothing more than running columns of descriptive hyperlinks to sites that I use frequently. They get updated every few months as I find myself going to a new site regularly. The page lives on a folder on a Web server that hosts one of several sites I maintain. It could live anywhere on the Web. I set that as my home or start page on the various computers that I use and navigate to it on other computers. It's also bookmarked on my phone's browser. For RSS feeds of interest, I keep a newsreader on all my computers. I also use Google's Reader as a browser based backup.

Posted by: Arlington4 | July 22, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm set up similarly to Arlington4 with my own default home page as a web page of hyperlinks. I have an old myway.com portal page that is one of those links, as it was set up years ago with the TV schedule, news headlines, and weather for cities where friends and relatives live. My default web page and the links on the toolbar of Firefox, along with the search bar defaulting to Google but with other choices keeps me well in control.

Posted by: Eremita1 | July 22, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Now that my browser remembers the pages that were open when I shut down, I don't really use bookmarks, a home page, or a portal anymore. I still use MyYahoo as a reasonably good aggregator of articles and RSS/twitter feeds (like FasterForward), but other than that, it is just as fast to type in the name of the site or google for it than it is to find in a menu or something like that. The only time I use bookmarks is when I've researched a bunch of stuff and have to shut down. At that point, I'll save all of my open tabs into a bookmarks folder so that I can review them later. Looking at my bookmarks list, I realize they are almost all useless now so I deleted most of them.

As an aside, Google Chrome's spelling checker doesn't recognize "google" as a verb, just "Google" the proper noun.

Posted by: slar | July 22, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Does Yahoo's new look do anything for you?

A. No

Could any new homepage design make a difference to your everyday Web experience?

A. No

I guess there are folks at Yahoo and their ilk that have to justify their jobs inventing useless new pages.

Posted by: aries720 | July 22, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

This probably won't attract new users, but could keep current users from leaving. Problem is though it's too hard to notice anything different on the home page. I still use a Yahoo.com email address and didn't know there was anything new on the home page until I read articles about it on other sites. Even after I went back to check it out, I still couldn't find any obvious links to try. Maintaining familiarity is one thing, but you can't win anyone over with new features if you keep those features buried.

Posted by: annanemas | July 23, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

who cares? I do what I do and the rest is fluff to be ignored.

Posted by: DrBones721 | July 23, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

I hate the new design. I like the old design.

The old one was functional for the basics, which is what I wanted. Buttons for mail and other functions. News headlines at the top. Fine.

On the new version, I see Popular Searches are highlighted -- don't care about those. Instead of "news" headlines at the top there are lifestyle stories. Don't care about those, at least when I first open Yahoo.

In general I hate home page re-designs because it takes me a long time to find what I was used to finding. Regular tweaks to Airlines sites and the devolution of the Wall Street Journal home page from the basics are examples of this.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | July 23, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Oh, let me add that I am not interested in tweaking portals. I use the Washington Post for the home page in my browser. Have for years. Not perfect, but does most of what I want in a home page without tweaking.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | July 23, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

there is one feature that i do like, in it's iPhone-ness. i guess you could cal it visual email. wherein i get a preview of what's in an email, i can see part of the actual message before i open it, not just the name of the sender like before. i've not really explored any of the rest of the homepage. i roll w/ Safari & sometimes Firefox on my Macs, so Yahoo's homepage is mostly a shortcut to my email w/ out having to sign in every time.

Posted by: dkjazz3 | July 23, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The only time I go to the Yahoo! home page is when I'm at a different computer or I've lost the way to my home page, My Yahoo!. Don't mess with that one, I've just gotten used to the changes from the last time.

Posted by: jimbo1949 | July 23, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Their time would've been better spent fixing their email problems.

Posted by: st50taw | July 23, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I'll be a minority voice here and say that while the new Yahoo home page doesn't excite, I really enjoy using My Yahoo with RSS feeds from yours and other sites etc. I know it can be done other ways, but I have grown to really enjoy using My Yahoo and customizing it the way I like (which has changed over time, of course).

Posted by: howardstuff | July 23, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Other than their news page, there is nothing else I use Yahoo for....

I could care less what they did to the design as long as I can access large volumes of news information to figure out all the facts...

It would be easier if "journalists" would just give us all the facts in a single article, but as it stands you need to read at least 10-20 articles about something to get all the important stuff...

Posted by: indep2 | July 23, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I like having fewer unused links cluttering the side column in the new Yahoo homepage design. But, since Top Sites was added to Safari, I usually use it to go to often visited sites, not bookmarks, nor a portal page. My only recurring use of Yahoo is to check the mail for an account I haven't ported to my iPhone.

Posted by: query0 | July 23, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

This morning, my Yahoo email page suddenly changed to a "New and Improved" version. Of course, none of my email came along with the change. At least Yahoo hasn't lost my Contacts list YET!! Does anybody know who one can yell at to complain that might get somewhere??

Tzimako

Posted by: tzim | July 23, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I like the new Yahoo design and have already tweaked it with my favorite sites and made it my homepage. I was previously using CNN. I like moving my mouse over the array of other websites on the left of the Yahoo page and getting an immediate show of what's on them. Very convenient way to quickly scan several sites without opening them. If I want, I can click on the link and go the site.

I use Safari and still have my tabs and other tools to use. The Yahoo home page is just another cool tool that I enjoy. I like having a homepage that's colorful and changing with links to things I wouldn't see otherwise. So yes, a good homepage is important to me. And Yahoo is now my homepage, which I'm sure is what they want. BTW, tweaking and adding my own sites was fast and easy. I even added Google news...

Posted by: jbc3 | July 23, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The yahoo web design folks should have definitely budgeted and spent the resources on undating their mail features. I do not see any difference in the design. I would like to send a email with a return receipt that it has been read and some other things that outlook offer as well.

The new design was a waste of resources and I don't see any difference at all within the portal and the dashboard options.

Posted by: 2mtsenie | July 23, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

No. Many lower forms of software are looked at by the publisher as an opportunity to control the online experience.

Good software gets out of the way of the job one is undertaking.

Note the two ideas are at polar opposites?

Right

The user should win each and every software argument, and the use wants these utilities in the background. Out of our way.

I do not want my browser, or my search engine to have these "extra" features.

It reminds me of 1994 era "commie internet" when school children in semi-adult bodies stamped their feet and insisted that the business web site offer games as "stickiness" to "keep people coming back".

Yahoo would do well to focus more on search algorithms.

Posted by: onestring | July 23, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Ditto howardstuff's comments about My Yahoo! I feel the same about My MSN. I can have my weather and stock quotes and news stories categorized by type (business, health, tech, etc.) all in one place. As long as I use IE and ActiveX, of course...

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | July 23, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Typically people are resistant to change; for example I remember how annoyed people got at Facebook's redesign. Now, I'm sure people would not want to go back.

I'm director of design at a software company and also run a small web design business; I don't use Yahoo for anything besides Fantasy Football. I find Yahoo's new homepage design clean and well organized. The modal popup when you hover over the links on the left is pretty neat. I wonder if something more useful could go where the Popular Searches are on the right.

Posted by: nonagon | July 23, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

The redesign is pretty dumb but then most web upgrades are.

I use Yahoo for two things and two things only. Groups and Finance.

I'm in both about 4 or 5 times a day. Frankly nothing else matters.

It's an extra click to get to Groups. That's too hard. Put it back on the front.

Finance? The new stock graphing tool is not better than old but it does show some promise.

There are improvements under the hood for finding stock symbols. Those are worthy.

Posted by: tchtic | July 24, 2009 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Eh, I'm not going to spit on the new design all together but I will say it's nothing more than fluff. Yahoo was fine the way is was in my opinion.

The most irritating thing is the instant access to your entire account just through logging in. Example: I purposely log in through Yahoo Messenger because over the years I have had a few pesky people on my address book. Well, after logging in to the "new" Yahoo...guess what? ALL of your contacts can see you right away!

Didn't like it, so I logged off and never went back to the "new" Yahoo. Those kind of improvements can stay in someone else's Stalkeryland.

Posted by: cbmuzik1 | July 24, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't care less about Yahoo's home page.

Now if washingtonpost.com were to make their home page as good & usable & visually-clean as the Grey Lady's, then we'd have something to get excited about.

Posted by: jaepstein63 | July 24, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

The new Yahoo home page is overdesigned. It's too cluttered to be very useful. Also, I agree with the person who wrote that the time and money could have better spent fixing Yahoo's email problems, which are legion. I pay for Yahoo business email and it's unreliable and buggy. Yahoo customer service is nil, doesn't exist. Overall, while Google's features (other than search) re too minimalist for my needs, Yahoo goes to the other extreme -- much too much stuff on the page for today's web users.

Posted by: Bob22003 | July 24, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

==============
==============
"Does Yahoo's new look do anything for you?"

No. The Washington Post is my homepage. It shows me what I need to know first, before I go anywhere else.

--faye kane, homeless brain.
Read more of my smartmouth opinions at http://tinyurl.com/fayescave

Posted by: Knee_Cheese_Zarathustra | July 24, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

My home page is:

about:blank

Posted by: donlibes | July 24, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Shuffling things around is a waste of time and money. They should focus on search. Search is the heart of working/playing on-line. Search should be their home page, then to see stocks, we type "stocks" and up comes their stock page right on top. The SE could learn about what we do and what we like... hummm

Posted by: 1234xyz | July 24, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

The best thing Yahoo! did regarding redesign is with their mobile page (m.yahoo.com), which I actually use on my desktop computer because it has little clutter. Great way for me to read news from predefined Yahoo! modules, keep up with Twitter, or add my own URLs. I have recently discovered that using mobile websites on the desktop is a great format for the visually impaired. These sites seem to work best with Opera 10 Beta (at least for me).

Posted by: The_Real_Crusader | July 25, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I just prowled on it some and I don't like it. I use Yahoo groups fairly often and it took me several clicks to get to my groups which I found annoying.

Posted by: mdogsmom | July 27, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I liked the old one much better, but now Safari defaults to the new one on my Mac. If I manually type in www.yahoo.com and it gets updated to m.www.yahoo.com. Does nyone know how to get back to old one? At least Firefox still displays the old one.

Posted by: jazzsteric | July 28, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

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