Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Yahoo home page cries out for personalization

Havi Hoffman has the post on the Yahoo Search blog announcing an AJAX-y redesign of the Yahoo home page. Richard MacManus offers a useful and detailed review.

Most reviews appear to be mixed. I personally find the page a cluttered, confusing, and poorly prioritized mess.

Some of this is caused by redundancy. For example, I see four links to News, two links to Mail, two links to Weather, three links to Entertainment, and several links to Travel on my Yahoo home page.

Some of this seems to be due to trying to wedge too much content on the page. For example, the inline message advertising "Yahoo! Answers: Ask a question | Answer questions" is a distraction from the more useful web search.

But, the main issue is that the page does not do a good job at what should be the goal of the Yahoo home page, helping people get to interesting content and services at Yahoo.

I think the Yahoo home page should focus on doing two things:
  1. Get people quickly to parts of Yahoo they like
  2. Help people discover parts of Yahoo they might like but don't know about
That's it. Help me get where I want to go. Help me find new, useful, and interesting stuff.

To help me get where I want to go, the page should feature things I use at Yahoo.

To help me discover new stuff, the site should recommend things based on what I already use. These are essentially internal ads for Yahoo content. If I fail to show interest, the ad should disappear and be replaced with something else that might be useful to me.

The Yahoo home page must stop trying to squeeze content for every group at Yahoo on their home page. That only generates a cluttered and useless mess, filled with distractions.

Different people should see different Yahoo home pages based on their interests and needs. The Yahoo home page should focus on helping me find and discover useful Yahoo content.

See also my October 2004 post, "Yahoo's clutter", and my June 2004 post, "Yahoo finally testing new home page".


Anonymous said...

"cluttered, confusing, and poorly prioritized mess"

Ouch. Greg, you rarely give such harsh reviews. I personally didn't think it was that bad, not great, but not bad either.

Anonymous said...

Ever heard of My Yahoo!?

Greg Linden said...

My Yahoo is a customizable page. It requires users to explicitly configure and set up the page. The vast majority of people don't bother.

This post was saying that Yahoo needs implicit personalization, learning what people use, paying attention to what they have seen, and showing each visitor a different, personalized Yahoo home page.