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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yahoo?: Redesign Follies Continue

Careful, Yahoo. Your on-again, off-again home page redesign saga risks crossing over into "Microsoft's new, new, new search engine" ridiculousness.

In March we heard of your plans to once again revamp the Yahoo home page. Now we hear you plan to revamp the home page revamp, based on "user feedback":
"...We recently started testing some new designs based on your feedback. We recognize that many of you like your homepage just the way it is, thank-you-very-much, so the overall look and feel of the page will be familiar. But take a closer look, and you’ll see that we’ve made some fundamental improvements and packed in features that are easy to use and easy to make your own – things you have told us you want."
When you hear the phrase "packed in features," you should be very afraid. My Spidey sense tells me this is less about user feedback and more about ... well, something else probably (trying to better monetize the home page, maybe?).

Maybe instead of tweaking the edges, it's about time Yahoo scrapped the whole cluttered portal approach and started thinking more like The Google. As any longtime Traffick reader knows, we're well aware that these "portal" brands thrive in part because of the comprehensiveness of their offerings, and believe that they will continue to thrive due to their ability to connect these services. And search-based navigation will continue to anchor the user experience with these major digital destinations.

Yahoo has plenty of excellent properties and, understandably, they want to expose you to them. On the other hand, Google has properties-a-plenty, too, and has never had any trouble getting users to adopt them, despite having a spartan home page that makes you work to find many common features. In the past, Andrew has called for Yahoo to make a bold statement by adopting a scaled-down, search-based home page in the past. Is now the right time for Yahoo to take the plunge?

Perhaps a direct copycat approach isn't the best way to go, but surely Yahoo can come up with a more original home page. They can and should find a way to apply the "New Marketing," as Seth Godin might say in Meatball Sundae, rather than going the tired old banner ad route. It seems funny to associate a former trailblazer like Yahoo with Old Marketing, but that's what they're doing, at least on the home page.

Regardless of the approach, Yahoo isn't going to reclaim market share with an evolutionary home page redesign. I say it's time to go bold -- especially now that Microsoft is set for an advertising blitz to promote Kumo, Bing, or whatever their latest attempt at building a viable search engine will be called.

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Posted by Cory Kleinschmidt




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