The new Yahoo.
As you've probably read--or seen for yourself--Yahoo has opened their site to link to third party Web sites and Web-based applications. They've replaced the (mostly) generic directory of Yahoo properties that once occupied the left rail with a list of shortcuts to other Web sites called "My Favorites."
The old Yahoo.
Along with the usual Y! properties like news, sports, and finance, they've also pre-loaded a number of popular Web sites to choose from such as Facebook, eBay, and The New York Times, and allow users to add their own sites. This list of "apps" can be likened to an application launch bar that presents in-page previews of the Web site's content on rollover. This new approach toward third party content is a win-win, as it gives their users a sneak peek at the latest feeds from their go-to destinations, while providing Yahoo! with new, contextually-relevant advertising opportunities before sending them off to external sites.
Accessing third party applications
Here are a few things I've noticed while playing around with my redesigned homepage:
• For the most part, "My Favorites" behaves as I'd expect it to. Adding to and editing the list are easy to do, and the instructions and iconography are simple and effective. Adding URLs is easy, maybe too easy: When I added .con instead of .com they went into the list as well, so it's not checking for valid Web addresses. And editing a URL once you've added it to the list is not possible. You have to delete and start over.
• The list holds up to 36 customized links, but only 15 are visible on the site. My guess is that the second and third tiers will be out of sight/out of mind for most users, as the only way to access them is from small pagination links at the very bottom of the column, below the fold.
• Tucked away in the top right corner of the page is the question, "What are you doing?" It's a fair question, since it's answered by millions on Twitter and Facebook every minute, but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with those status updates, which can easily be linked, for better or worse. It doesn't seem to have much to do with anything, to be honest. It just sits in the top right corner, telling me what I'm doing. I'm told it links to my Y! profile page, but I've never looked at that, so doubt anyone else would check there for my whereabouts.
• They've done a good job of simplifying the homepage overall without removing much of the content. Very little content is noticeably missing--some areas have been stripped down, removing headers or category tabs, and some have been moved to the footer. Through small changes to the content and visual design throughout the page, they've made the content links much more visible and easier to scan than before.
• They're back to the purple logo. How long has it been red now?
As far as I can tell, not much else has changed. For folks who rely on the Yahoo homepage, I doubt this redesign will cause much confusion. It might even get people to stick around a bit longer before they click down into an article or off to another site. For anyone new to Yahoo (although I don't know who that would be), or those who haven't been there in a while, the redesign offers an alternative to a straight-up RSS reader, as it allows you to interact with third party content without leaving the page, while catching up on to Yahoo's more popular syndicated news feeds. But will the redesign convince me to make a special trip to my Yahoo page now before I venture off to Facebook or Boing Boing? Probably not.
Jennifer started her multifaceted career in tangible and interaction design at the circus--quite literally--at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. In the last 13 years, she has created multi-platform products and services for myriad clients including Nokia, Yahoo!, BBC, Gucci, and American Express. Her design management background includes the Prada Epicenter store in New York, which inaugurated a new paradigm of tangible retail experiences. Jenn is fluent in French and Italian, and has lived and worked in the U.K., France, Italy, and Germany. Before Kicker, Jenn was VP of User Experience at HUGE and at Schematic, and is on the faculty at New York's School of Visual Arts MFA in Interaction Design. Her work has been exhibited throughout Europe, including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Jennifer has a Masters in Interaction Design from the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.