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Yahoo Refreshes Its Home Page

Portal takes a page or two from Facebook, Twitter

The plan to redesign Yahoo’s home page has been the worst-kept secret of Marissa Mayer’s seven-month tenure as CEO. The portal finally took the wraps off its redesign on Thursday with a new layout that echoes Facebook’s News Feed and Twitter’s stream.

Yahoo has replaced the previous patchwork of content modules packed with article links. At the top of the home page resides a traditional, curated slideshow of 55 top stories, but below that box things get interesting.

Yahoo has supplanted the standard portal home page with an infinitely scrollable and ever updating vertical news feed that borrows liberally from social media outlets. If Yahoo were to redesign its Twitter page and embed it on Yahoo.com, this is what it would look like.

The feed lists each article with a hyperlinked headline, one-line blurb and the name of its source (Associated Press, SB Nation, US Weekly, et al), adjoined by a link to the relevant topic page. Essentially, it’s as if Yahoo redesigned its tweeted articles’ Twitter Cards and embedded them in its modified Twitter page. Users can click to share an article to Facebook, Twitter or via email or opt to eliminate an article from the feed, potentially signaling to Yahoo what types of articles they won’t want to see in the future—a feature similar to Facebook’s option for users to hide posts or mark them as spam.

Perhaps Yahoo’s most salient new wrinkle is that each user will see a customized variation of the home page’s content. Users can now log in with their Yahoo or Facebook accounts and have the news feed pull content based on those accounts. Conceivably that could mean that stories shared by friends on Facebook would also pop up on Yahoo.com, provided the accounts are connected.

“Designed to be more intuitive and personal, the new Yahoo experience is all about your interests and preferences,” wrote Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in a company blog post announcing the news. (Moments after Mayer introduced the new-look Yahoo, she appeared on NBC’s Today show to walk users through the refurbished homepage. This was an interesting choice, given that Today is in heated competition with Yahoo TV partner Good Morning America.)

Facebook’s and Twitter’s fingerprints appear all over the new Yahoo home page, but the standard portal fare applies on either side of the main container. The left rail has links to Yahoo’s category pages and appears minimally touched, as does the above-the-fold portion of the right rail. But as users scroll down the right rail, they’ll find what Yahoo is describing as “newly designed applications” such as one displaying a user’s local weather and another that will alert Facebook-connected users to friends’ birthdays.

Yahoo has stripped down the ad placements on its home page. The redesigned layout features only an IAB- standard 300 x 250 pixel Medium Rectangle banner towards the top of the right rail and a smaller unit at the bottom of the left rail that includes a rectangular image and some hyperlinked text.

The new Yahoo home page is hitting desktop, tablet and smartphone users in the U.S. starting today, with an eye toward a comprehensive rollout to take place over the next few days.

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