Yahoo! Refreshes, Redesigns Local

The image “http://l.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/us/ls/gr/i/ma_loc_2.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Other than the yellow pages sites, Yahoo! is really one of the incumbents in local search. It pioneered interactive mapping, advanced functionality and local filters, as well as being an early integrator of community and ratings/reviews. But more recently Yahoo! has been under pressure from Google and Microsoft in dynamic mapping on the one flank and a range of newer local and community sites (e.g., Yelp) on the other.

It was time for a local refresh, which Yahoo!, as of this evening, has done. With a redesign partly inspired by the Yahoo! OurCity sites in India, the new Local site features a bolder graphical look that pushes community content even more front and center. There’s also better Yahoo! Groups integration and more prominent local events from Yahoo! property Upcoming. To that end, there’s a helpful “weekend guide,” that includes movies and other entertainment options. In general there appears to be broader integration of other Yahoo! content and properties into Local.

The site is basically divided into three primary tabbed sections: City Guide, My Local (saved content) and Directory (categories). Indeed, while search remains central to the site, there’s a great deal more category and browse functionality. Overall the product appears to be more elegant and complete than its predecessor. Maps are still featured, but not as a central metaphor or visual element and much more in a functional way.

Here are some screenshots (click any to enlarge):

Local Y1

Local Y

Local 1

Taking a page from Yelp, the site also makes reviewers and their photos (or avatars) more prominent to make reviews in turn more transparent and offer more “warmth” and personality to the site. Personalization is also more heavily featured and I would imagine, ultimately so will be behavioral ad targeting (currently playing on Yahoo! Travel).

Something (for me) to get used to is the removal of the many filters that populated the left column on search results pages. I found these to very useful but, apparently, most Yahoo! users were not quite as keen on them. Most of the filters remain but are part of a “narrow your search” expandable box (see below). Yahoo! told me that user testing and feedback suggested the change.

Local 2

Local 3

It will take a little while to explore and digest the new design, content and features. But on first look this is a welcome change and general improvement. It also comes at a good time, when Yahoo! needs to retain users and maintain its momentum in Local.

Among the comScore category of “IYP” sites, Yahoo! Local maintains a lead, with 20 million uniques. But the competition is also gaining. And this is a time when the local advertising opportunity is finally starting to kick in. (As recently reported by TMP Directional Marketing, the Internet is now the primary source of 60% of local lookups/searches.)

And you? Your thoughts, reactions?

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Here’s Elinor Mills of CNET on the redesign. And here’s the WSJ (sub req’d) on Yahoo SmartAds (which I reference above).

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11 Responses to “Yahoo! Refreshes, Redesigns Local”

  1. Vaughan Says:

    Hmm is looking pretty much like superpages.com and a little like citysearch a couple of years ago, loses its YP feel which is good, would of liked to see a little bit more unique looks though

  2. The brand new Yahoo! Local – Hidden Features Says:

    [...] Now Greg Sterling has a less biased and more insightful take on the new design go have a read. Yahoo! Refreshes, Redesigns Local [...]

  3. Michael Bauer Says:

    So, here’s two cents. It’s going to be based on what you’ve put in your post Greg. Heaven knows I’m not going to actually do any work and look at the site myself. :)

    It’s got that nice clean magazine layout. Lots of whitespace. Good color palette. Nice combination of serif and sans-serif fonts. Simple labeling and sectioning. Good use of photography for brand effect. Great. I’m sure any junior college design professor would give the student a solid B+/A-.

    So what? What’s new here? What new FUNCTIONALITY have they given me? They caught on and took out refinements. Bravo. I know they have that siren call to you, Greg but they are generally lost on the general public as innumerable studies and anecdotal experiences have shown. I imagine taking something out is some kind of innovation. Of course, they put in a tag cloud instead. Ohhh-kayyy. That cleared that up. Want a burger while you’re watching the color purple on your way to Fry’s electronics?

    And the continuous addiction to YP categories remains. Would you like to narrow your choices for Sushi Restaurants? How does giving me more GENERAL categories – Japanese, Asian, just any damn Restaurant in general in any way NARROW what I’m looking for? At least they have neighborhoods in there. I think the only people that really want to look for Sushi Restaurants across an entire damn city are those of us looking to compare and contrast IYP sites in their ability to find Sushi Restaurants. How about something RELATED (probably in there, just haven’t looked at it).

    I don’t get any sense of SAN FRANCISCO here. Just a list of generic categories that are a combination of consumer-searched and business-bought that’s going to be replicated across any major metropolitan area regardless of the city (let’s toss out some Home and Garden and pepper it with a little Restaurant lookup). That should cement our ability to maintain 20 million uniques. No erosion from Google there.

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    Interesting take Michael. One of the dilemmas is local personality vs. scalability. One question: I would assume that you think Yelp does a better job of conveying the local flavor of a place or Citysearch (now with TurnHere video). On that last point, do you think video would overcome the “generic” qualities you cite?

  5. paisley Says:

    Mr. Sterling,
    i like looking at sushi rest. across a whole city before i go there and before i book a hotel…

    Good article
    :)

  6. Top Posts « WordPress.com Says:

    [...] Yahoo! Refreshes, Redesigns Local [image]Other than the yellow pages sites, Yahoo! is really one of the incumbents in local search. It pioneered […] [...]

  7. Michael Bauer Says:

    I don’t think local personality and scalability are mutually exclusive Greg, particularly at city scale. I think you can have both at that level and think with the resources a company like Yahoo can bring to bear that we would see that. Yes, your point about bringing in video addresses the generic concerns but doesn’t solve them (I love the turnhere videos). We used Flickr photos for localguides.com as a simple proxy for local personality. Those along with some original (and wikipedia content) gave a local personality at scale. I think we could have done a better job and I think a better job can still be done. I was hoping that Yahoo could have done that but I guess they are just too constrained by corporate realities to break out of the box.

  8. Yahoo! Local Redesign - Did you notice the ‘neighborhood’ info? « eNeighbors.com Blog Says:

    [...] are plenty of reviews (here and here) of the new site, so I won’t waste your time simply recapping what they’ve [...]

  9. Yahoo! Local invests in redesign at Ghost of Midnight Says:

    [...] Greg Sterling weighs in… interesting comments to his [...]

  10. links for 2007-08-18 » eWhisper.net Says:

    [...] Yahoo! Refreshes, Redesigns Local « Screenwerk Nice writeup by Greg on the new Y! Local redesign. (tags: yahoo+local) [...]

  11. Dave Liu dot com / musings from the edge » Articles of the Day Says:

    [...] Yahoo Refreshes Local Search – Despite its status as a pioneer of local search and early integrator of community and ratings/reviews, Yahoo has faced growing pressure — from Google and Microsoft in dynamic mapping — and then from new local and community sites such as Yelp. So Greg Sterling applauds the redesign of Yahoo Local, which launched last night. [...]

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