There’s an all new My Yahoo (upgrade URL) launching today at 11 am PST. This is the web’s most popular customizable home page by far, with 50 million or so worldwide users and half of the total market (the other half is controlled by Netvibes, GoogleIG, Pageflakes, Live.com and others). So when they make a change, it affects a lot of people.
I had the opportunity to meet with Tapan Bhat (VP, Front Doors) and David White (Director, My Yahoo) and see a demo of the new product yesterday. There is also a screencast of the demo here, led by White.
The new My Yahoo has been redesigned to look more like the recently updated Yahoo homepage. But the most significant changes are are under the hood. Instead of presenting a default set of content to new users to start them off, My Yahoo is now analyzing known data about the user (zip code from IP address and the areas of Yahoo that the user visits often) to create a customized version right at signup. So, for example, if the user tends to go to the Yahoo Movies property occasionally, a Yahoo Movies module will be auto added when they create a new My Yahoo account.
Yahoo is also adding new sharing features. Any page that a user creates can be shared with other My Yahoo users via email or IM. If accepted, that page is added to the new user’s My Yahoo account as well. In the future, the team says, they’ll be allowing users to publish their own pages, as Pageflakes does today.
Users can also choose between a 2, 3 or 4 column layout and a number of themes.
There are a couple of areas where My Yahoo is still lagging competitors like Netvibes. Widgets cannot be added to the site, although that is coming eventually, the team says. Users also can no longer have bookmarks linked right from the main page – that feature has been moved to a drop down control panel. That makes some sense from a user interface perspective, but I’ll miss being able to access bookmarks with a single click. Finally, My Yahoo has a large ad unit on the site that cannot be removed – something none of the other services force on users.
Overall this is a very welcome step forward for My Yahoo. And from what the team is saying, there are a lot of additional features to be rolled out in the near future as well.
Like most Yahoo product upgrades, this is being rolled out to users slowly. If you’d like to test it out, you can create an account or upgrade your existing one at cm.my.yahoo.com/upgrade.