To understand the change this time, let’s look at it from the good old days of the Yahoo! Directory age.
From top left we have the first directory created by Jerry and Dave, and then later on became the most familiar page of my year (I still remember how I tried to submit my little GeoCities page page onto the Yahoo! directory), and then evolved into the maze-like landscape full of landmines (ad banners). It was so unusable, because we simply don’t want to start from what Yahoo! wants to tell us anymore, but rather from what we want to seek from Yahoo!
And that’s when Google came in and crushed Yahoo!.
Imagine all these screens on mobile devices. They are either unreadable or are diverted to an uglier m.yahoo mobile site for some local adaptation, which sometimes is an even worse experience. Or, for the US main site, they simply forward the traffic to the App download page (as shown in the last image above), and that experience is not united and streamlined either.
For this reason, I haven’t come in to Yahoo! page for a long time. Not just because I simply can’t find anything from that massive page anymore, but also because I don’t even start from that directory. To be honest, Google.com is not my Homepage either, because I simply don’t start from any page any longer. All I do now is start (desktop or mobile/tablet ~ which is more than half of the time) with a search term at the Chrome bar and land on the search results directly, or click on referral links from emails, Facebook links or Tweets.
With this angle, I understand the rationale behind the Yahoo! repaint of their Welcome Page. It is not a big upgrade, but it fundamentally changes a few crucial items:
- It focuses very much on the newsfeed as the core real estate space and search, prominent search bar at the top . News and Search are the two main reasons that users visit Yahoo! So now they cut the clutter and make it a bit more obvious to deliver on this objective upfront, and that’s great!
- Since Mobile and Tablet access will soon (or has already, at least for me) surpassed desktop access, their Responsive Design rather than a stripped down version of the m.yahoo site is the way to go, and that’s great too.
- They allow users to login with their Facebook ID or Yahoo account. Yahoo! is never in the Social space, and it makes sense to “outsource” this effort to the greatest social platform.
I still don’t have a winning verdict on Yahoo! and Mayer, but looking at how they are addressing mobile use (news can be read on full-featured www.yahoo.com on Smartphone rather than a stripped down m.yahoo version), I am looking forward to seeing the next outcome of this continuous improvement initiative.