Yahoo starts revamp with updated homepage

CEO Marissa Mayer shows off 'infinite' and social news feeds, and bolder look

As part of Marissa Mayer's comeback plan for Yahoo, the company unveiled its revamped homepage today.

Mayer, Yahoo's new CEO, showed off the new homepage during an interview on NBC's Today Show.

"Well, we wanted [the homepage] to be familiar, but we also wanted it to embrace some of the modern paradigms of the Web," Mayer said during the morning show interview. "I think that we're really focused on the world's daily habits and making them more inspiring and entertaining. And so that means taking the things that Yahoo's always been great at, the home page, search, mail, news, finance, sports ... and refresh and be more modern."

Yahoo home page
Yahoo's updated homepage. (Image: Yahoo)

Yahoo, which slipped from being an Internet pioneer to a second-tier player, is working to retain its lost stature. Mayer, who was a top executive at Google, arrived last summer with the mandate to turn the company around and create excitement around the brand.

During Yahoo's fourth-quarter earnings call last month, Mayer said the company's search, email service and homepage were the most in need of work.

The homepage seems to be among the first issues that Mayer has taken on.

Changes to the site's homepage include what Mayer called an infinite news feed, which continuously scrolls down with a string of stories. The page also uses bigger, bolder photos, as well as a personalized news feed.

"It's personalized to you," Mayer said. "Well, it's about what you clicked on, what your friends liked, what your friends have read are all things that would appear in here... It's more personalized and it's more dynamic. People said, 'Give me a reason to come back to Yahoo a few times a day.' And now the content's always updating and refreshing, that gives you all the information you want."

It's a big step for Yahoo, according to Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst.

"This is much more than just an updated homepage for Yahoo," Kagan said. "This is about a massive reinvention and rebranding of Yahoo. This is about paving a new path to success. This is about changing the way the marketplace sees Yahoo. It's about the future of Yahoo, which is very different than the past."

Because of its significance, Kagan was surprised that Yahoo didn't make a bigger splash with the announcement and said it might have missed an opportunity to create more excitement for the brand.

"Yahoo has been around forever. It was one of the first search engines, years and years before the word Google was rolling around on anyone's tongue," he added. "This reinvention of the Yahoo home page is the biggest step yet for Marissa Mayer as CEO to reinvent the company. However, this is only one step of many. And each has to be launched the right way."

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said the search company's updated homepage should be enough to create some buzz for Yahoo. The homepage has looked several years out of date for a while, so the overhaul is a welcome change, he said.

"Certainly, it will get more attention, especially in light of the excitement about the new CEO," said Gottheil, who also likes the idea of the social news feed. "For me, it makes more sense to know what my friends are reading than knowing where my friends are shopping... I think it has potential. It's a network effect. The more friends use it, the more I'd like it."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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