The problem: 1) Yahoo! suffers from an identity crisis. It tries to be everything to everyone, resulting in marketplace (and internal) confusion. Is it a technology company with an advertising business or a media company with a digital front end? 2) Yahoo! has also become uncool. It must modernize to attract a younger user base.
My solution: 1) Leverage Yahoo!’s well-regarded content and own its position as a media company. 2) Help Yahoo! revolutionize the Web portal experience by giving users the content and functionality they want in a new and engaging way.
The new homepage highlights Yahoo!’s rich content in a dynamic, responsive layout. Users can click through the visual previews featured in each category. This further solidifies Yahoo!’s shift towards a visual (versus text-based) Web experience, as was initiated by Yahoo!’s new visually-enhanced browser, Axis, that returns visual previews of search results.
With its streamlined identity as a media company, Yahoo! must make its content a primary focus. Thus, it takes center stage of the new homepage while the search functionality was moved into a secondary position — a dropdown menu.
Regarding search, Yahoo! made great strides with Axis, which no longer returns blue links but visual previews of its results instead. And because Axis is based on a “mobile first” mindset, it allows you to scroll horizontally, both through a set of results or through the actual pages themselves. Axis certainly turns search into a more visual experience but at the end of the day, it’s only a UI makeover. For Yahoo! to really make strides, it needs to embrace the imminent app-ification of search and focus on the backend to enable users to accomplish discrete tasks quickly. In essence, Yahoo! needs to make search work harder.
For example: a search for the movie “Ted” should return all the logical, task-oriented results associated with a movie search — in one place. And the more I search, Yahoo! should learn my behavior — what I click on and what I don’t — and return all results accordingly.
Lastly, streamlining Yahoo.com for logged in users was necessary. As it stands now, a user can log into Yahoo.com as well as access a My Yahoo! page. To reduce redundancy, these two were combined so now when a user is logged into Yahoo.com, he’s viewing his customized Yahoo! homepage. There is no longer a separate My Yahoo! page. After logging in, a user can access his control panel, which is the root of all admin, social, and customization capabilities — it is here that he can personalize the layout of his Yahoo homepage.
My role: Strategy, UX, IxD