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Yahoo Preps Redesign

Yahoo is unveiling a major overhaul of its vaunted home page, a redesign aimed at creating a less cluttered, more malleable and cohesive user experience.

The page, which is available at Yahoo.com/trynew, has been designed to help users better connect to their favorite sites and services from one central Web locale. That ability to connect extends to top social networking sites as well as their mobile phones. For example, users can integrate their various e-mail accounts at the page, even if those accounts are not Yahoo-branded. And much like AOL's recently revamped home page, Yahoo users can update their status on sites like Facebook and MySpace without leaving Yahoo.com.

Plus, borrowing a strategy from Apple, Yahoo has rolled out a suite of apps that visitors can use to customize their home-page experience.

Redesigns are common among Web portals. But Yahoo executives are touting the new page as the most significant redesign of the company's core product since its launch in 1994. But in doing so, a brand that has always touted personalization (e.g., MyYahoo) and putting users first is acknowledging that it has gradually abandoned those principles.

Yahoo svp Tapan Bhat conceded that the current page had grown cluttered, driven by editorial and business demands. Recent home-page decisions, he said, have "been about Yahoo, not the user."

"Yahoo needs to make the user experience first," Bhat added. "If our goal is to make Yahoo the center of peoples' lives online, this home page has to change."

What is unlikely to change, at least at first glance, is Yahoo.com's importance to marketers. Last month, that page alone reached 113 million unique users, per comScore, and it still commands high rates even during these recessionary times. Based on screen shots made available to reporters prior to the launch of the new page, its premium, oversized ad position remains largely intact: