Yahoo launches Redesigned Homepage
The fact that Yahoo is working on a new homepage design hasn't been news for almost a year now, as it was announced and previewed in September 2008. Since then a few users have been getting the revamped page as part of the testing phase before it was ready to roll out for the masses. And now, finally, the day has come when the new homepage design is officially released, in the US for the time being but coming to other countries around the world gradually.
The first question that comes to mind is, is it any good? Well, it is better than the previous version, with a much cleaner design, less clutter and more customization options. The search section is also more prominent, a peculiar move for a company saying it's trying to move away from the search business and has been trying to sell it to Microsoft for years now.
The biggest change to the design, however, is the new My Favorites section that replaces the Yahoo Services bar. This may seem a little counterintuitive for a company with the number of products Yahoo has but it is, in fact, in line with its current strategy of focusing on some core services and closing the ones that underperform. And even Yahoo says that most people only used a handful of the services listed so why not let them add the ones they actually use.
Currently, there are 65 apps designed for the My Favorites area with widgets covering a wide range of uses. Apart from the expected Yahoo services a number of popular sites are also available from news outlets to eBay and Gmail. You can also add any site you want by URL and Yahoo will create a widget for it, presumably using RSS. And, yes, there is even a weather widget. But the most interesting aspect of the new page is the new social tools that bring Facebook and MySpace integration. No Twitter for the time being, though custom widgets can be created so one is bound to be coming.
All of this is fine and dandy – overall the new design is better than the previous one, it's somewhat spacier, it has better features and even new-fangled social media integration. It may very well be the best web portal in the world. And no one will care. Because the biggest problem Yahoo is facing isn't an aging design it's an aging idea. The new page is the best they've had but, with the Internet constantly fragmenting and with specialized services doing one thing best while also offering better integration with each other – Facebook Connect comes to mind –, the “one page to rule them all” mantra may be a thing of the past.
When people want to use Facebook they will go to the Facebook page, when they want to use Twitter they'll go to the Twitter page or use a desktop or mobile client. So to finally answer the question at the beginning, yes the new page is good but it just may not matter anymore.