Yahoo Inc. is giving a sneak peek at what it calls the most
Visitors to Yahoo.com will find a link there to the new home page, whose search engine interface has been positioned at the top, sharing top billing now with the Yahoo logo. “Search is the primary navigation tool on the Web these days,” said Ash Patel, Yahoo’s chief product officer.
The buttons for Yahoo services such as e-mail and instant messaging that previously sat atop the search interface have been moved below it. However, in the new page, users are able to preview e-mail messages, see IM (instant message) contacts who are online, as well as check local weather and traffic information, among other things.
“It’s a lot more personalized and built around users’ daily routine,” Patel said. “Our aim is to engage the user more with Yahoo.”
A new section, Yahoo Pulse, aims to inform visitors of what is garnering the most attention on the Web, based on the usage patterns of Yahoo’s search engine and other services.
Gartner analyst Mike McGuire finds that the new home page has a cleaner layout and a very effective use of AJAX, which speeds up the response of Web interfaces, making them resemble desktop applications.
“It’s critical these days to constantly enhance your home page to keep that first exposure to consumers fresh, interesting and useful,” McGuire said.
For a company such as Yahoo, which has a wide variety of sites and online services, the home page plays a key role in getting visitors to come back and increase their use of the overall Yahoo network, McGuire said.
Yahoo, whose business is based on attracting users to its Web sites and selling companies advertising, faces tough competition for users and advertisers from companies such as Google, Microsoft and Time Warner.
Yahoo’s network remained the most visited in the U.S. in April with about 128 million unique visitors, followed closely by Microsoft and its MSN unit with about 120 million, Time Warner and its AOL subsidiary with about 119 million and Google with about 108 million, according to comScore Networks.
The new home page, which also lets users choose from among several color patterns, can be accessed directly by going to http://www.yahoo.com/preview.
Yahoo plans to continue enhancing the design based on users’ feedback and to launch the home page in final form at some point during the U.S. summer, which ends in late September.