Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me: Yahoo’s Latest New Homepage Redesign Tries Dramatic Interactive Tile Look

Another week and yet another new design for the Yahoo homepage is being tested out on users — this time, it appears to be one (which you can see below) that looks a lot like Microsoft Windows 8’s touchscreen tiled approach (which is here).

After already putting out tests in the field with infinite scrolling, a simplified logo and giving search more prominence, the Silicon Valley Internet giant is apparently testing an even more drastically different redesign of its key landing page — one that seems to be aimed at being consumed on touch-responsive, non-PC devices.

As you can see from the screenshots below — which a user sent me, and which look exactly like what many Yahoo sources have described to me recently — the design uses big photos tiled across the top of the page. It suggests an ethos that is reminiscent of the new approach by Microsoft, as well as many others, such as Flipboard and Pinterest.

All of these encourage users to reach out and touch, scroll and swoosh. In fact, there are side-swiping arrows on the new Yahoo design.

Also part of the look, which is still being tweaked: More simplified icons for various Yahoo properties, fewer text links, additional social and personalization aspects and — perhaps most importantly — no advertising module at the very top.

That’s interesting, since Yahoo’s homepage is a big moneymaker for the company, because of its huge daily traffic. Thus, any new homepage design will have both massive consumer and financial impact on the company.

Sources said that one possible plan is to move from several 300 by 250-sized ad units to a single 300 by 600, which other sites like AOL have shifted toward. Such a change will not be without controversy for marketers.

It will also present a fresh selling challenge for new COO Henrique De Castro, who arrives at Yahoo from Google next week, and who will be helming sales efforts. (Hey, Henrique — get ready for my upcoming 360-degree profile of you!)

The latest redo is now being iterated under the regime of new CEO Marissa Mayer, under an awfully confident codename, Project Homerun. We’ll see if it is San Francisco Giant’s Panda-worthy, but sources said it is set to be released widely within the next two months.

But, while some new designs that have surfaced have been closer to the current version of Yahoo, the latest design is a more significant shift that would clearly lend itself well to mobile touchscreens, especially on increasingly popular tablets.

Along with Pinterest, Flipboard and Windows 8, other sites have done this, of course, most particularly pioneering content design done several years ago by BermanBraun’s Wonderwall for Microsoft’s MSN portal.

That’s no surprise, since Mayer declared in a recent earnings call — articulating what many desktop-trapped Silicon Valley Internet giants have also done recently — that Yahoo was going to also veer toward a “mobile first” sensibility.

“Yahoo will have to be a predominantly mobile company,” she said in the third-quarter earnings call.

Here’s what that seems to mean for Yahoo, with the new homepage images, as well as one of the current one to compare:


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus