Yahoo today unveiled a redesign of its home page. The new design has a lot to recommend it. It's a big improvement over the old one. The use of Ajax technology to expand links, tabs, and menus is great--it vastly expands the amount of space on the page. And the integration of Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Local, and other services is quite elegant.
"You'll see better content being surfaced, and it's always fresh," Yahoo's chief product officer Ash Patel said in a phone interview.
If only it were content I cared about.I took a look at the new Yahoo, wondering whether I might be able to defect from Google's personalized home page. It's not going to happen.
Yahoo's new home page is just too commercial. Despite Patel's insistence that Yahoo is centered on the user, it seems to me that Yahoo is equally obsessed with the sponsor.
The new home page features a section called Yahoo Pulse. Yahoo bills it as "a place to discover the most popular and interesting Yahoo searches, as well as pop culture trends, music, videos, photos, and all the stuff people are looking for, reading, viewing, listening to, rating or sharing online." When I signed in to my Yahoo account, it featured a list of digital cameras. I call that advertising, not content.
The Inside Yahoo Search section lists popular entertainment searches. There's a picture of Angelina Jolie and links to other celebrities. Why are they on my page? I don't know. Yahoo seems to think I want to know what's popular among other users.
Then there's the Marketplace section, which features links to mortgage quotes, video rentals, and online degrees. Again, I don't want to see any of that.
Arguably, Yahoo offers greater personalization through its 360 service, but 360 is really set up for sharing and social computing.
Google's personalized home page has no ads and is completely user-defined. My personal page has a weather module, movie showtimes, my Gmail account, my Pandora favorites, a Ta-da List, and 25 feeds from my favorite sources of news. It's not as slick as what Yahoo is offering, but it's more functional for me. And that's what personalization should be about.