To understand the change this time, let’s look at it from the good old day of the Yahoo! Directory age. From top left we have the first directory created by Jerry and Dave, and then later on became the most familiar page of my year (I still remember how I tried to submit my little GeoCities page onto the Yahoo! directory), and then evolved into the maze-like landscape that full of landmines (ad banners). It was so unusable, because we simply don’t want to start from what Yahoo! want to tell us anymore, but rather from what we want to seek from Yahoo!. And that’s when Google came in and crushed Yahoo!.
Imagine all these screens on the mobile devices. They are either unreadable or are diverted to an uglier m.yahoo mobile site for some local adaptation, which sometimes is even worser experience. Or, for the US main site, they simply forward the traffic to the App download page (as shown in the last image above), and that experience is not united and streamlined either.
For this reason, I haven’t come in to Yahoo! page for a long time. Not just because I simply can’t find anything from that massive page anymore, but also because I don’t even start from directory at all. To be honest, Google.com is not my Homepage either, because I simply don’t start from any page any longer. All I do now is to start (Desktop or Mobile/Tablet ~ which is more than half of the time) with a search term at the Chrome bar and land on the search results directly, or click on referral links from emails, Facebook links or Tweets.
With this angle, I understand very much the rationale behind the Yahoo! repaint of the Welcome Page. It is not a big upgrade, but it fundamentally changes a few crucial items:
Firstly it focus very much on newsfeed as the core real estate space, plus a search bar first thing on the top. News and Search are the two basic reasons that are left for the users to visit Yahoo!. So now they cut the clutter and make it a bit more obvious to fullfil this objective upfront, and that’s great.
Secondly and more importantly, since Mobile and Tablet access will soon (or has already, at least for me) surpass desktop access, Responsive Design page rather than a stripped down version m.yahoo site is the way to go, and that’s great too.
Thirdly, they allow user to login with Facebook account instead. Yahoo! is never in the Social space, and it makes sense to “outsource” this effort to the greatest social platform.
I still don’t have a winning verdict on Yahoo! and Mayer, but looking at how they are addressing the mobile use cases (read news on full-featured www.yahoo.com on Smartphone rather than a stripped down m.yahoo version), I am looking forward to see the next outcome of this continuous improvement initiative.