Yahoo Launches Front-Page Overhaul

Internet giant Yahoo is rolling out a new version of its front page—one of the most highly visible pages on the World Wide Web—in a move to put personalization and customization features front and center. The idea is to make specific information and tools immediately available to users, rather than force them to navigate into separate, walled-off areas within the larger network of Yahoo sites to get what they want.

The new home page features a left-hand column with links to users’ favorite sites, and a main content area that’s very similar to the customized page offerings that have long been available on the company’s My Yahoo service. However, in a new twist, the home page modules can tap into not just information from Yahoo sites—like Yahoo Mail and Flickr—but also non-Yahoo services like GMail and eBay, without leaving the Yahoo home page. This makes Yahoo’s home page a better starting point for many Internet users…and also enables Yahoo to keep its hands on those users while they access other services, while still serving them ads.

The new home page is being rolled out slowly to registered users, and some sources indicate as little as one percent of Yahoo’s users base may be able to see the redesigned home page right now. The last time Yahoo revamped it’s home pgae and site, the company took more than six months to roll out the new versions to all its users.

The changes are a major step in Yahoo’s long-standing promises to deliver a revamped users experience, and in turn ramp up revenue from advertising and partnerships. Some 500 million people a month access Yahoo services, but only about 15 million of those users have set up personalized pages with My Yahoo; by expanding some of those capabilities to the front page, Yahoo hopes to make its site more engaging and immediately useful. However, it remains to be seen whether users will embrace the services one they become available: one of the reasons comparatively few users have tapped into things like My Yahoo is that they’re difficult and awkward to configure and manage: it’s easier for users to bypass default home pages and go directly to what they want, rather than try to wrestle with page configuration tools and confusing interfaces.

On another note, Yahoo and Rhapsody have expanded their partnership to offer full song playback in Yahoo Search. When users search for an artist with available content, users will be able to stream full-length songs by that artist right within the search results listing using the FoxyTunes Player. Users will be able to stream up to 25 full-length tracks in a 30-day period.

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