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Yahoo tests home page using outside content

19 сентября 2008

Yahoo Inc. will begin testing a new home page Thursday that plays down its own content and allows users to customize it with services from other Web sites, as the Internet company tries to jump-start its growth.

The site's new elements -- which Yahoo will begin showing in stages to less than 1% of its more than 300 million monthly home-page visitors -- is part of the Sunnyvale, Calif., company's push to revamp all of its major Web properties. Under the tests of the new home page, users will for the first time be able to swap in more content from outside companies, as well as see less text, a bigger search box and new ad formats. Currently, users who want to access outside services can do so through a separate product, called My Yahoo.

In the past year, Yahoo lost its lead to Google Inc. as the most popular group of sites among U.S. Internet users, according to comScore Inc., though it has maintained the second spot. The company has also lost online-advertising share to Google and others, and it grappled with selling itself to Microsoft Corp. Investors, irked Yahoo didn't end up doing a deal with Microsoft, have sent Yahoo's stock down in recent months and question whether the company can improve revenue growth on its own.

Aspects of the new home-page design, Yahoo's first major home-page renovation since 2006, aren't likely to be finalized for months, and many features that will eventually be included in the test aren't yet finished. The tests indicate how Yahoo plans to remain relevant to users who are no longer interested in spending time on just one portal. Instead, they are dividing their attention across a number of sites, which are all drawing interest from advertisers.

Tapan Bhat, senior vice president of front doors, communities and network services at Yahoo, said the company recognizes it must adapt to appeal to consumers who only want to see information they care about. To that end, the new design does more to show users content they might be interested in based on content they have visited in the past.

The new design also replaces a prominent left-hand directory of Yahoo properties with a customizable menu that may include services developed by Yahoo, as well as services from rivals like Time Warner Inc.'s AOL and eventually from other well-known businesses like Facebook Inc. and also lesser-known start-ups.

Abandoning the old directory could prove risky if it weakens traffic to other Yahoo sites, but the new design does refer to some Yahoo services through a shorter menu of icons elsewhere on the page.

Borrowing features from social-networking sites like News Corp.'s MySpace and Facebook, Yahoo users will also for the first time be able to display information indicating what they are up to. Through another new service, users will eventually be able to track whether their friends have just rated a restaurant on Yahoo's local service or started tracking a sports team on Yahoo Sports, for example.

Caroline Dangson, a research analyst who covers new media and entertainment for IDC who was briefed on the new design, says the new look is appealing but by itself likely isn't enough to help Yahoo leapfrog its competitors."I don't think the physical look is going to change things," she said.

She said Yahoo's plans to eventually allow any third-party developer to create a service -- like a movie application or a restaurant finder -- that can run on its home page, could give it a lift. While many social networks have opened their services to developers, Ms. Dangson thinks developers will be eager to build new offerings for Yahoo.

Источник: Total Telecom

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