I've been reluctant to say anything, but yesterday was the last straw. The Yahoo! Homepage has progressively been getting worse over the past 6 to 8 months. Editorially speaking, it's in the toilet. Functionally, it's, well not very. The Hollywoodization of Yahoo! has taken its toll on my sensibilities as a product manager and information architect. Yesterday, some
nitwit decided to put up an image of a sculpture of Britney Spears "giving birth." That image was featured for more than 24 hours in the ridiculous Entertainment module on the home page. You can see it above, there. But I'm sure it hasn't escaped your attention.
My problem is that sensationalism has taken precedent over findability. The Yahoo! homepage bombards you with tacky content, animated ads, advertising take-overs, and so much noise that it's difficult for you to do what you intended to do when you launched your browser.
Sure the cheesy "entertainment" stuff has a high click through rate. But that shouldn't determine its value. I could put a link that says "Live Nude Girls!" on a page, and I'm pretty sure you're going to click on it. But this causes a problem. It's a distraction and it takes away from your original intent... searching, checking mail, shopping, finding, etc. It also takes clicks away from more deserving areas of Yahoo!
Yahoo! should be about helping you find what you're looking for on the web. That's how we started and that's the focus of the Search & Marketplace organization. We've gone astray by giving credence to tabloid tactics and noisy advertising rather than helping people.
I won't use My Yahoo either. So don't bring that up. Unfortunately "My" does not offer the flexibility that I need to access important Yahoo! features and outside content. Right now, it's a dinosaur.
The soon-to-be-released redesign isn't helping the matter. If anything, it's making it worse. From what I've seen so far --and these are public screen shots on Flickr-- search is shoved up in the header, and the primary focus of the page is the entertainment news. If they go with this kind of layout, that crap will be front and center and bigger than ever. Plus, none of what I've seen is very original. It looks like a clone of the new AOL or MSN front pages. We can do better.
Ultimately it's about brand. How do we want to be perceived in the marketplace for 2006 and beyond? As an also-ran cheese ball portal or as a valuable tool for people to get the most out of the web? Millions of people from around the globe use Yahoo! as their start page, we should honor these folks by focusing on our core values.
If you want tabloid entertainment, there are plenty of choices available. I just don't know why our homepage needs to be one of them.
I'll write more later and make suggestions as to what I think we should do, but I needed to get this off my chest.
Netvibes is my new home page.
Thank you for your time.