After months of testing and tweaking, Yahoo!, the world’s largest search portal, has finally unveiled its new homepage design aimed at making it more relevant to its users and international markets.
Initial testing on the new homepage began back in February this year, with the goals to make the homepage smarter, faster and more personalized. While initial previews were available to beta testers back in May, the official release happened early Monday morning.
So has all the effort paid off?
Well the jury is out on the new design. After taking the new site for a spin this morning, there are some obvious improvements and enhancements that do improve the user experience, but I am still overwhelmed by the busyness of the homepage.
The new design offers users all the intuitive control one would expect with the current technologies available (Ajax and DHTML etc.). This makes the usability of the page significantly better than its predecessor, with roll-over tabs and user controlled views making the interface much faster to navigate around (no more reloading of pages to get to different sections).
An obvious scope requirement for the redesign was a focus on “local” content and search. This is apparent across several elements of the page with the page itself easily set to specific geographic regions around the world.
There are many other “nice to have” customizable features littered through the new design, such as page layout controls and color settings, but the real value will be achieved when users have real control over the content such as news and RSS feed controls.
The new direction for the homepage also poses questions as to the long term value of Yahoo!’s “MyYahoo” homepages. As the homepage becomes more user-controlled, the need for a separate MyYahoo homepage is diminished.
So with all the improvements what are the downsides? Well there aren’t too many, but as I mentioned earlier, the clutter on the homepage is very distracting. Striking a balance between providing enough information and too much information is sometimes quite difficult. I would like to see user controls to remove page elements that are not relevant.
Interestingly, I was talking to a colleague of mine recently, and she remarked on how cultural backgrounds affect our preferences for layout and formatting. While Western cultures tend to go for clean uncluttered presentation, Eastern/Asian cultures are actually drawn to busier formats. So potentially Yahoo! is trying place more attention on these rapidly growing markets…
Either way, if you haven’t had a chance to check out the new homepage, it’s worth taking it for a test drive…it really is a good redesign all told.