Yahoo Tests A New Homepage Highlighting Magazines, Talent… And Twitter

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For the past year or so, Yahoo has been working through a major design overhaul under CEO Marissa Mayer, and it looks like it has now started testing out new formats for its biggest property of all, Yahoo.com.

From the looks of tips that we’ve received from readers, and a handful of others on Twitter, the new site will sport a much cleaner look, with a collapsible vertical menu bar on the left that highlights some of the effort the company has made to beef up its content. It will also feature some dynamic pop-up widgets to give people real-time access to things like Yahoo Mail. And the version we have seen also includes an integration with a non-Yahoo site: Twitter.

We have reached out to Yahoo about the appearance of the new Yahoo.com, and as you might expect the company had no comment. “We are always testing and trying new stuff :-) But we don’t have anything to announce at the moment,” a spokesperson wrote me in an email. The appearance of the site for more than a few people, and the new features, spurred us to cover it anyway.

There is some clear logic to a redesign for Yahoo.com. First of all, it’s been a while. The last major overhaul was in February 2013 in the U.S. — a format that rolled out in EMEA November 2013. Given how much more has changed since then with individual properties like Flickr, Sport, and mobile apps, it makes sense that the main Yahoo page gets a new look to align with the rest.

Second of all, it’s the company’s crown jewels, but they may need a polish. Yahoo.com ranks as the seventh most-popular website in the U.S., according to Quantcast. And comScore (subscription req’d) pegs its traffic at 155 million uniques per month. Yet perhaps more tellingly, those audience numbers are on the decline: comScore says they are down by some 16% since August 2013. A redesign could go some way towards reversing that.

Here are the changes we can see:

  • On the left had side, there will be a new, vertical menu bar (purple, of course) that collapses to icons, or expands to list different Yahoo content properties. This includes Yahoo Mail, but also its magazines and “More” — this last tab goes to a pop-up window that lists other Yahoo properties that are not its magazines. For example, it lists Yahoo-owned Tumblr, but also games, weather, shopping, Flickr and so on.
  • When you scroll over the Mail tab, you get a widget that will let you view your mail live. Today clicking on this will take you to a new screen — navigating you away from Yahoo.com.
  • Scrolling over the magazine names also highlights different stars that Yahoo has hired for a pretty penny over the past many months — personalities like Katie Couric (for news), David Pogue (for tech) and Bobbi Brown (for beauty). Presumably clicking on them will give you views into the slick web versions of the new magazines.
  • When you scroll over each of these, the rest of the vertical columns shift to the right.
  • The next column over is Yahoo’s main news river. This includes its own in-house content, alongside third-party news from other sites like Huffington Post (owned by our owner, AOL). We’ve been hearing, anecdotally, that Yahoo has been a big traffic driver for various websites and this could serve to highlight that role even more.
  • To the right of that is a more visual, card-based layout highlighting more news stories. Within both this column and the more text-based news column, you have “native” ad placements — sponsored stories and the like.
  • The next column over is Yahoo’s consolidated Twitter feed. In the current, live layout, Yahoo currently has cards highlighting content for its different properties. Handing over that real estate to Twitter would be an interesting move for Yahoo — it would mean less need to update that information separately and it opens the door to Yahoo interacting more with users on Twitter. It’s not clear if there will be other social networks integrated there as well. As it stands, it’s also not a bad way of bulking up against bigger competitors for both of them — namely Google and Facebook.

Do you want to see how this looks? You can check out the gallery below. Or, one of our tipsters, Chris Begley, tells us he’s seen the preview in Safari — so that may be one other way you may get a chance to see this for yourself.

 

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Current Yahoo.com:

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