Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) is one of the veterans of the Internet, and one could argue that when it comes to site design, it kind of showed. But on Tuesday, after a few nips and tucks, Yahoo! revealed some cosmetic changes for its venerated hub.
In my opinion, many of the Internet giants like Yahoo!, Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) MSN, and Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX ) AOL have long used overly fancy interfaces to lure consumers to their hubs. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , of course, proved that such clutter was largely unnecessary; its spartan interface didn't detract from its core search function.
Yahoo!'s new look isn't that simple, but it does have a more modern feel. It's got bigger, more prominent buttons for popular products like Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! Mail, and a left-hand bar for more specialized offerings like Yahoo! Finance and Yahoo! Personals.
In a nod to user-generated content, Yahoo! showcases Yahoo! Pulse on the site, which packages trends as content, utilizing reviews and recommendations from its own user base. Standby content like weather reports and movie information is easily available, too.
In many ways, I'm bullish on Yahoo! In fact, I took the bull side in a duel on the stock recently. If the combination of content and community is king, Yahoo! has certainly laid an impressive claim to the crown over the years. But while the site redesign looks nicer than the old version, my first impression is that something's missing: a bit more innovation, perhaps.
Given Google's encroachment, not to mention the rise of News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS ) MySpace, all the major Internet players need to make their sites more interesting, useful, and especially forward-thinking. Is this new design really reflecting -- and capitalizing on -- the next phase of the Internet? I think Yahoo! could have done better. With so many options for entertainment and search on the Internet, today's users probably need to be wowed.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.