It’s no secret that Yahoo! needs a clean-up. As a search engine, and an advertising tool the company’s offering needs bringing up to date, and fast.
The online world expects big things from Yahoo’s new CEO – Marissa Mayer (who has already made the news by buying everyone at Yahoo! the iPhone 5). And as online marketers we’re constantly on the look-out for changes which may improve acquisition for the client, so it goes without saying that an impending restructure at Yahoo! is of interest.
It’s already been pointed out that Mayer’s experience at Google has filtered through Yahoo! only a few months into her role, for example, she’s removed the logo’s ‘R’ trademark. But this is arguably a superficial nudge towards cleaner branding, and there are much more important issues to be addressed, for example the overpowering adverts or the confusing racks of Yahoo! products on the homepage.
This is the over-complicated Yahoo! we expect Mayer to fix. And looking into her contribution at Google seems like the best place to start thinking about the changes she may bring about.
In 2001 Mayer was one of the first at Google to start working exclusively on user experience. Even then the search titan was aware of how small changes to an interface could dramatically alter a person’s interaction with the page.
A minimalistic layout, with understated but easy access to Google tools meant that the search engine was friendly to regulars and the occasional browser alike, without compromising the integrity of additional features. Nowadays, Google offers alternative search suggestions at the bottom of the page because it knows that a user is highly unlikely to find what he or she is looking for on the second or third.
Yahoo! can learn from both of these lessons*. Why have display ads on the homepage, when their sheer presence is distracting enough to drive users into the arms of competitors? And don’t get me started on the results page – where Yahoo! clogs the bottom of the page with more PPC ads.
At Google Mayer understood clarity over content, consumer over company, to the point where a brand’s adverts were not a mere auxiliary, but actually useful. We expect Yahoo! to follow suit. Albeit a few years late.