Yahoo today launched what some are calling a significant overhaul to its home page. Yahoo says the new home page is designed to help you stay on top of what is going on in your world, and on the rest of the planet. What the search company has really done, however, is tweaked its old design and added some new, more flexible features that just might pull more users into its sphere. This includes adding more personalized features and the ability to pull a wide range of third-party services into Yahoo in ways that weren’t previously available.
Here’s what’s new:
The most significant change is in Yahoo’s right-hand column, which has been renamed My Favorites. Under the old home page, this column was filled with Yahoo services including games, shopping, Yahoo personals and other features. The new design allows you to choose from a wide range of third-party sites and services, including Facebook, news sites, and e-Bay. Yahoo has also moved Yahoo Mail, Messenger, and other Yahoo service over to the “My Favorites” section. When you hover over any of these widgets, a display pops up with an advertisement and your information.
For me, the best functionality came with the Facebook widget. The widget is a full-functioning mini-Facebook, and looks a lot like the mobile version of the social network. It includes your full news feed, and links to your ‘Events & Birthdays,’ Profile, and Friends list. If you pull your cursor off the pop-out widget, the service will disappear after a second or two. A similar Facebook feature can also be embedded in your iGoogle account.
In addition to the more than 65 widgets you can place on your new Yahoo homepage, you can also make your own. Just click on ‘Add’ at the bottom of the My Favorites list, and then at the very top of the widget list you can enter the Web address for anything you want to keep track of and give it your own name. If the import is successful, you now have a new widget on your home page.
I tested this out by adding Today@PCWorld and FriendFeed to my page. Today@PCWorld worked out fine, but Yahoo wasn’t able to add an icon to the pop-out widget, and I wasn’t able to add my own. Not suprisingly, I wasn’t able to add my home page from FriendFeed, but I did have the option to add the home page for several FriendFeed users.
Taking its cue from Twitter’s Trending Topics, Yahoo now features the current top ten favorite searches. The Trend Setter box is located on the top left of the home page, where users used to access their e-mail, messenger, games and weather under the old design.
The news tabs have moved down a bit, but now have a local news section. Just type in a U.S. City or Zip and Yahoo delivers news from local news outlets.
PC To Mobile Sync
This feature isn’t available yet, but Yahoo says that soon your Yahoo mobile page will match the edits you’ve made on the desktop version.
If you want to try out the new features you have to opt-in when you arrive at Yahoo’s home page; alternatively, you can go to Yahoo.com/trynew. Today’s launch is only available to users in the United States, and availability will expand over the coming week to users in France, India, and the U.K. Mobile device users will also see the new Yahoo home page this week, but the company didn’t specify which countries would see the mobile version first. If you live in the rest of the world, Yahoo says it will be rolling out the new home page to more countries in the coming months.