Yahoo: "Most Significant" Change Fails to Wow

Yahoo boss Carol Bartz calls its redesign the "most significant change in our home page since the company's inception." It's also a big step backward for web design.

What she's managed to create is a place for folks who have no online life and need to be told how to find one, while looking at lots of ads, of course. Maybe that's what Yahoo is supposed to be about, but it's not what most users want.

My homepage choice, Google News, isn't going to change. And here's why:

Unveiled Tuesday, the design is actually better than what it replaces, but only incrementally so. Some people look at it and don't even notice the changes.

Why I noticed, after opting in, is that the page still has too many ads and is not fully customizable. This page reminds us that Yahoo isn't at all subtle about why it exists: To sell you things. Like we need the help.

(You can see the changes, clearly pointed out, by visiting our slide show).

I really couldn't care less about Yahoo's "popular searches" and its news selection should be comprised of my choices, not theirs. This is another example of the Internet on training wheels, circa 1998.

The key new feature is the ability to scroll down the "favorites" column and see a preview of each site. Of course, the previews include ads just slightly smaller than the content you are looking at. This is a potentially good feature, hidden by bad design, and not useful enough to make me want to come back.

By the time I added two of my favorite sites--only one of which worked with the preview feature--and deleted many of their defaults, like HotJobs, autos and a horoscope, my favorites list was pretty small.

The link to Facebook worked as advertised and allowed me to post a response to a question a friend asked in his status message. I could also see the spam in my Yahoo inbox, which I don't use. I keep the Yahoo Messenger client open on my desktop, so that "favorite" isn't of interest to me.

Yahoo's "recommended" favorites, which at the moment include "Deal of the Day," "EW.com" and "Small Business" also failed to excite.

There also is no built-in way to add my Yahoo Groups to the page, which is such a no-brainer as to qualify as a sign of a flat-line EEG.

Bottom line: Yahoo's new homepage is just as useless to me as its old home page and still too annoying besides. The page is designed for folks with lukewarm IQs and can't be customized enough to make it much better.

I am sure someone will like Yahoo's new redesign, but in asking around I've yet to find anyone. I take that as a good sign.

Industry veteran David Coursey woke up more cranky than usual. But, he's still right. He tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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