Space Ramblings

Yahoo Beta Threatens to go Meta

Like a lot of Yahoo Mail users I got tricked into briefly using Yahoo Mail Beta back when Yahoo was touting it. My main reaction was that Yahoo still didn’t get it. Despite GMail’s success, Yahoo still had no clue what users wanted, which was not the same kind of overblown bells and whistles that made the new Microsoft Hotmail virtually unusable but a simple and flexible browsing experience. Users want to be able to access their mail fast, click through and move on with their lives. They do not want the burden of loading all the flash bells and whistles that Yahoo feels the need to burden users with. They do not want animated avatars. Those are all relics of AOL and AOL is barely around anymore for a reason.

Rather than aiming up, Yahoo Mail aimed down. Their lack of usage limits is good but now Yahoo Mail Beta is threatening to go mainstream and displaced Yahoo Mail Classic, to which one can but hope that there will be an option to switch to the classic interface. As long as companies keep missing the point and emphasizing a user facility over user experience, we’ll keep getting barraged with portals instead of applications.

Google’s great triumph was that it understood that user experience comes first. People want to use web sites as applications rather than be entertained with ads and wacky avatars and all that stuff. Yahoo Mail needs to learn for that or perish to Gmail.

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