Yahoo! Weather Gets One Step Ahead by Working with Apple

It has been a month since I chose Yahoo! Weather app as my default weather app on my iPhone. I liked the UI style of the app, simple, information matter on the front and center and the pretty Flickr local scenery photos, all with good touch. After WWDC 2013, it turns out that this app fits right into the new iOS design. Is Yahoo!’s designers THAT good? Or they can see into the future?

The question became very obvious right after I delve myself into Apple’s ‘out-of-the-oven’ Mobile Human Interface Guideline (can be found here, need to have developer account to access):

Yahoo-Weather-before-afterr

Since iOS default weather app actually use Yahoo weather, I think designers in both companies must have talked before releasing their version of the weather app. Good for Yahoo! I’d say. And maybe in the future if we want to get a sneak peek into iOS changes, we could pay a bit more attention to Yahoo’s weather app?

 

UICraft: Yahoo’s Search Page UI Evolution

For people who take note, Yahoo! has been undergone many changes on their culture, products and more subtle things. Like the recent updated search page UI, which is claimed by Yahoo! to “puts your results front and center.” If you are a designer like me, these words will appear in your mind when you think of Yahoo!’s past search page design: ‘obsoleted, busy and full of clutter’. That’s why people have some love to themselves usually don’t want to visit Yahoo!, it makes their eyes ‘bleeding’. It makes mine do at least. But, the recent changes on the search page UI did breathe some fresh air into it. Let’s have a closer look:

yahoo-search-beforeyahoo-search-after    Image via : The Verge

The change is quite observable, and on the right direction. Overall the layout is cleaner, the information are better organized and navigation is easier. It feels to me that the rather strict discipline mostly found in mobile app are applied here. The designers in Yahoo! are using space as if it’s as scarce as in mobile device, even when they are designing a full webpage. This leads to a ‘mobile app’ grade experience and consistency across all platforms.

I totally understand if you stopped here, but if you are interested in what exactly get improved on the UI design of Yahoo! search page, I’ll explain in more details:

1. Change of search results font color

This might not seem to be a big deal, but it’s a huge relief to the eyes. The old page use pure blue, which is also the default color of URL link on web. When the Internet is born, having a different color to separate URL link with plain text is functional, but many years has past and people demand much more. The default blue color provides too much contrast and not very comfortable to the eyes. Also using default blue will make it easy for people to relate to those ‘crude’ and poor designed website, doesn’t really what Yahoo! want its viewer to relate to.  A subtle change to a lighter blue on the new design make things much better.

2. Stronger Application of Grid System

As can be seen from the old design, the alignment is lackluster, especially on the center search results part. The only strong alignment you can find is that all the text are left aligned. Whereas on the new design, we observed that now all the search results are placed in a fixed width container. The search bar on top of the page also shares the same width with the container, creating very strong alignment. The page now are very clearly divided into three columns. Left column is all the different search types user can choose from, middle column is the content (search results, as Yahoo! claimed, front and center), right column is ads area, slightly out-of-the-way (where ads should be). The strong alignment and layout make it much easier for user to find their way around.

yahoo-search-grid

 

Three Columns

 

3. Less User Interface, More Content

It has become more of a trend in nowadays web design that user interface gets out-of-the-way and make the content front and center. This is the direction Yahoo!’s new search page design is heading. A very observable part on the old page is the ‘search types’ tabs on top of the search results, it has now been moved over to the left column, leaving only the search results in occupying the entire center column.

yahoo-search-types

Search Types Tabs are removed on new design

These changes aren’t rocket science, but it shows that Yahoo! starts to care about user experience. It might be a very small step, but it is welcomed nonetheless.

Yahoo! Bans ‘Working from Home’ Not a Bad Thing

marissa-mayer-7882_270x338Yahoo recently announced that ‘Working From Home’ is no longer allowed for its several hundreds employees. Many people are outrageous. I read a lot of angry comments on all the big tech medias. Yet interestingly, when I was browsing Quora, I stumbled upon this question: What has been the internal reaction at Yahoo to Marissa Mayer’s no work from home policy? More interestingly, the top upvoted answer is from a current Yahoo employee, his answer, and I quote here, is:

 

 

 

I have been at Yahoo for four years and lets just say the house needed and still needs a lot of cleaning up and Marissa is doing just that. So I am glad that the change in policy was made.

Many people are misled by the various stories going around. If your child is sick it is ok to work from home for that day and my boss and others are ok with that.

The change primarily affects those who permanently work from home.

If we want to change, compete, and make a come back all hands have to be on deck, in meetings, contributing ideas, involved, etc.

People will use the argument that look at Google and how it allows employees to work from home. My question would be have you seen their P&L? They make boatloads of money.

We are fighting to stay relevant. So getting your ass into the office and working on projects is not too much to ask. If you don’t like it well too bad, the exit door is over there.

I think this answer very much said it all (no wonder it got 450+ upvote). Yes, WFH is a nice to have alternative and could boost creativity and offer some flexibility. But when you are fighting for your own survival, like Yahoo! right now, you need to do whatever it takes. Everyone needs to stick together and focused and work toward the same direction. Working from home, you’ll lose a lot of the peer pressure, the inspiration from others and the positive feedback loop. You’ll be less connected with your team, especially on the emotional level. And emotional support and moral matters A LOT in hard times.

I have to say it seems that good things are happening within the then Internet giant.  Will we see another Apple like ‘Steve Jobs’ style turn around?

New Vision from Marissa Mayer of Yahoo

New Vision from Marissa Mayer of Yahoo

“We think about how do we take the Internet and order it for you,” Mayer said. Yahoo intends to be “a feed of information that is ordered, the Web is ordered for you and is also on your mobile phone.”… “There is a way that you can introduce advertising such that it’s not intrusive, it actually adds value to the end user, and it actually enhances the experience,” Mayer said. “And that’s what we need to work on.”

As I mentioned in my earlier post:

‘So to sum it up, if social network companies focuses more on knowing their users better , then providing valuable suggestions and helping user reduce the noise level, it will be a win-win to everybody. Users will have a higher quality of information flow, get ideas and suggestions that relevant to their needs and taste. Social network companies will make better use of their ‘raw social data’ and get more engaging subscribers (that willing to share more about themselves). And even advertises will have an easier time targeting their audience because of the better profiling from social networks.’

I believe Yahoo’s new CEO gets it, and better even she has the power to make it happen. It’s refreshing to see someone with an unique perspective, yet it’s always easier said than done, so it all boils down to how well Yahoo can executes its witty strategy. We’ll keep watching.