Yahoo will begin bucket testing a new version of its home page this evening with small percentage of users. The company’s last home page redesign was more than a year ago, and earlier this year Yahoo began integrating third party content onto the site via their new Buzz product.
Any changes to this page ripple broadly through the Internet – 314 million people visit the Yahoo home page world wide each month (Comscore, July 2008). 82 million visit it daily.
The new page combines what Yahoo calls “broadcasting” elements, which are the same news and resource links for everyone, with “narrowcasting,” which are highly customized home pages made popular by My Yahoo, iGoogle, Netvibes and others.
A key addition is the introduction of third party services to the Yahoo home page. For now users can log into their Gmail or AOL Mail accounts and view emails right from Yahoo.com. This is similar to what AOL unveiled last week. And like AOL, Yahoo has chosen to leave Microsoft out of the party.
The rest of the changes being launched tonight are largely cosmetic. But Yahoo has plans to roll out new features over time that bring even more third party content to the site.
The rollout begins tonight to a small number of users in the U.S., UK, India and France.
In a briefing today Yahoo also showed a number of upcoming features that may be integrated into the home page over time. These are just prototypes at this point, but they show an inclination to bring even more customization options and third party content onto the site.
The first is integration of news items on the home page from third party sources. Today all news sources in the “In The News” section point to internal Yahoo news pages. But the internal prototype shows links to outside sources like the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle. Whenever this launches, look for massive butt-kissing by media to get themselves on the home page.
I also got a look at the soon-to-be-released “add application” function that lets users add apps to the left sidebar. The mockup included widgets for Hulu, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook – all third party services. Screen shot: