My first thought upon looking at the new Yahoo home page was "Ack!" While the new page has some nice features, it takes a step backward in ease-of-use and misses a huge opportunity to be an even better home page.
The biggest change to the new Yahoo is the dynamic "My Favorites" sidebar that allows you to customize your Yahoo experience. It's like a small dash of MyYahoo added to the main page. While the new home page ditches the personal assistant that allows quick access to Mail, Messenger, Puzzles, Weather, Events and Horoscopes, each of these can be added to the new sidebar for quick access.
Beyond that, the new sidebar can display Gmail and AOL mail, which is handy for people like me who use both Yahoo mail and Gmail as primary email accounts. Previously, I was forced to switch over to MyYahoo to check them on the same page. You can also get quick previews of many Yahoo sections, such as Good Morning Yahoo or Yahoo Music, and even add widgets that will preview the New York Times, Facebook, MySpace, and other popular destinations.
The one ding on the sidebar is the lack of tabs once you've added enough sections for it to need additional pages to display all of your goodies. Instead of easy-to-use tabs at the top, there are small page buttons at the bottom of the sidebar. They should have taken a page out of the MyYahoo playbook.
This dropped ball in the ease-of-use department also extends to the featured articles section of the home page. While the previous featured articles section had tabs across the top, allowing the reader to quickly target an area of news, the new featured articles section forces the reader to scroll through the sixteen different articles. They even fumble the ball by only providing small scrolling buttons below the featured article thumbnails rather than big buttons to each side of the thumbnails.
One nice addition is the ability to move the news snipped above the featured articles. But this small bit of customization simply demonstrates a huge lost opportunity of allowing readers to really customize their Yahoo experience. Instead of just allowing people to move the news snippet above the featured articles, they should be able to move the sections to any part of the page, and even replace individual sections with something entirely different similar to MyYahoo's customizable sections.
And speaking of MyYahoo, it would be nice to add MyYahoo tabs to the Yahoo sidebar. That addition alone would really make the new Yahoo stand out as a customizable experience that people can tailor to their own needs.
In the end, I think Yahoo is taking both step forward and a step backward. The new customizable sidebar is definitely an improvement, but the page's navigation stinks and the entire experience could be a lot more customizable.The Top Personalized Home Pages