By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm
Yahoo is rolling out a revised version of its home page today. It represents no radical change, but it’s nice–and almost every change feels like it was made in the interest of Yahoo users.
At first glance, the old home page (which you can choose to retain) and the new one don’t look much different, except for the fact that the site has finally switched to a purple logo. (The Yahoo folks think that purple’s emblematic of the Yahoo brand, although I don’t know many consumers who make that connection.)
The new home page is more streamlined, with fewer modules and ads, but the big difference is in the list of features–now called Favorites–at the left. Here’s a closeup:
It’s still full of Yahoo features, such as Autos, Finance, HotJobs, and Maps. But it’s also got some major non-Yahoo destinations, such as eBay and Facebook. If you click on a item, you’ll go there. But when you hover over most items, a window pops up that lets you do stuff without leaving the Yahoo home page. Here, for instance, is what Facebook looks like on my Yahoo (Not to be confused with My Yahoo, which continues to be available):
You can also add additional favorites from a list of Yahoo and non-Yahoo (including Gmail–yay!) choices:
But the best part of Favorites may be that you really can add your favorites, even if they aren’t on Yahoo’s master list. Plug one into the “Add a Favorite Website,” and it’ll show up in the Favorites list, with a hoverable module. Here’s Technologizer (which I added, as seen in the Favorites list above):
A few notes/quibbles:
1) At the moment–in my browser, at least–I’m sometimes getting error messages that say a given service isn’t available. When I click again, everything’s fine. I’m hoping this is a launch-day hiccup.
2) For some reason, you can’t add a Twitter module that lets you update your status from Yahoo. I’m hoping that’ll change. Soon.
3) You can shuffle around the order of Favorites, but unless I’m missing something, Yahoo Mail must remain the first item. (If you try to drag another item to the top, it won’t stick.) As far as I see, it’s the only part of the new Yahoo that prevents you from doing something you might want to accomplish.
4) At the moment, My Yahoo remains unchanged. I buy the notion that it makes sense for the Yahoo home page to offer some simple customization options, and for My Yahoo to provide deeper personalization. But I’d like to see some integration between the two pages–shouldn’t my Favorites list appear on My Yahoo, too, instead of the similar-but-different Quicklinks list?
5) One of the reasons I don’t spend more time on Yahoo’s home page is that it’s often been dominated by superfluffy items–such as breaking news about The Bachelorette–that leave me feel like I’m losing brain cells. The new home page lets you swap the fluffy feature story module up top with the somewhat-more-serious news block, which adds some gravitas. But I’m intrigued by an upcoming feature which will let you use a slider to select how fun or serious you want the items on Yahoo’s home page to be.
If you check out the new Yahoo, let us know what you think…