Home My Yahoo! Gets Web 2.0 Makeover

My Yahoo! Gets Web 2.0 Makeover

Hot on the heels of My.Netscape’s
personalized homepage makeover, Yahoo has announced a new version of its own long-running
personalized homepage, My Yahoo. It will at first be a
private beta, with a limited number of users being offered a beta account at http://cm.my.yahoo.com/upgrade. Yahoo’s plan is
to gather feedback from those early users and then make the My Yahoo! beta more broadly
available – with additional features – over the coming months.

Read/WriteWeb got a sneak peak at the beta and we have some screenshots, along with
our initial impressions, below. There is also a screencast available (but for now it is high res and slow to load; I’ll notify you when a better version is up).

My Yahoo! has been Yahoo’s personalized offering to its consumers since 1996. In the
preview, Yahoo told me that My Yahoo! is seen as their “narrowcast” option for users,
while the yahoo.com frontpage is seen as the broadcast model. However I was also told
that, over time, the two homepages will converge. Certainly, the first thing I noticed
about the new beta My Yahoo was that it had some of the new features Yahoo introduced
last year with its Ajax makeover of yahoo.com. And the look and feel is very similar
between the two.

My Yahoo! is essentially a user’s dashboard, or start page, for the web. So it shares
a lot in common with Microsoft’s Live.com, Google’s Personalized Homepage, Netvibes,
Pageflakes, Webwag, and many others. However up till now, My Yahoo has been a relatively
static personalized homepage – mostly devoid of the widgets and gadgets that populate the
likes of Netvibes and Live.com. Also the design was rather conservative, although to be
fair probably much more usable than the other ‘start pages’. Also, My Yahoo was an early
adopter of RSS feeds (not full text though).

All in all, Yahoo has managed to keep its many millions of mainstream users happy –
but with the trade off of falling behind Microsoft and Google in terms of widgets and
ajax interactivity. Indeed we’ve noted a few times before that My Yahoo has plenty of
potential as a ‘web 2.0’ start page – and thankfully now we’re starting to see that
potential being fulfilled, which is good news for Yahoo’s user base.

New Features

The beta My Yahoo has a fresh new design and some neat interactive features (using
ajax of course!). It also aims to make personalization simpler. Some of the new beta
features include tools for:

  • pre-built personalized page for each user, based on data Yahoo has already gleaned from their usage of Yahoo properties – the design of the page is closely aligned with yahoo.com;
  • Category pages for topics such as cooking, plus “content suggestions”;
  • Users can further customize their page with drag-and-drop modules, and new
    four-column and small search box layouts;
  • Feed previews and a full post reader on the page;
  • Editable Personal Assistant with instant access to things like Yahoo! Mail,
    horoscopes, local traffic, etc;
  • Redesigned modules from Yahoo! and select partners, with games, music, commerce,
    sports updates, weather, finance portfolios, TV listings, etc;
  • Sharing feature, enabling users to send their My Yahoo! page or favorite modules to
    friends and family – note, this is very similar to Pageflakes’ sharing
    feature, only Yahoo told me that their sharing service doesn’t require sign-ups;
  • More “new interactive modules” to come

Also noteworthy is the “hover bubble” (an unofficial term for an ajax-based text
bubble). My favorite new feature so far is the MyYahoo Reader, which offers full text (yay!). Both of these features aim to give
the consumer more content in the page, without navigating away.

What’s not there currently? Widgets, but Yahoo told me that over time Yahoo! Widgets (aka Konfabulator) will be integrated with My Yahoo.


As you can see from the screenshots below, the new beta My Yahoo is much easier on the
eye than the current My Yahoo. It is very slick and easy to use too. My Yahoo currently
gets 50 million monthly users worldwide (their figure) and so it is the biggest
“personalized homepage” on the market. As such it is careful about rolling out new ajax
and web 2.0 features – in order to avoid the Netscape.com or USAToday re-design
backlash from users. Yahoo also says it received “a fundamental United States patent for
the invention of personalized start pages” back in 1999, although who knows what that

The new My Yahoo is a great improvement already on the old one and we’ll be tracking
its progress over the coming months, as it is slowly released to the mass market.

Update:Ex-My Yahoo Boss, Now Pageflakes CEO, Responds to My Yahoo Beta

My Yahoo Reader

Customize colors, columns, etc

Similarities to yahoo.com

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