The weird new Yahoo! home page

I was looking at the interesting concept that Yahoo! is trying out with their home page: an aggregator of favorite pages. You can add new pages and when you hover over them you might get a preview before you actually click on it to navigate out to this page. In a way, it's a personalized portal with the websites you want to have.

I think it's a cool idea in general. Finally somebody big is giving up on being insular and accepting that it's much more beneficial to accept that other sites might have better content than you and try to use that to your benefit. The way Yahoo is trying to benefit with that is two ways:

1) The straight-forward of just being there to show you lots of ads. And it's very annoying! When you hover to get a preview, half of the preview pop-up panel is an ad.
2) The less direct of knowing what people want and being able to work to offer more of what they want. That can be done through providing suggestions of other things they might be interested, or simply a better experience on the preview pane (I'll talk about this below).

I've been quite disappointed with Yahoo lately. Haven't been able to see them moving forward on any of their main services and just adding more ads here and there. But I think this time they have something more interesting than just an ad farm. But it's certainly far from perfect (and final, as it's still just a sneak preview right now):

A) As I mentioned before, the size of the ads sometimes is a little too big and hides important space to get content.
B) They need to code their preview specifically for each website you want to add. Some already work, like gmail and Facebook. or most of Yahoo's properties, such as Flickr. But when it's not there, the results can be puzzling. I tried FriendFeed and it gave me very strange results from an "ediet" feed:

Ask Raphael: Getting a Tighter Butt- 2 days ago
Ask Raphael: Getting a Tighter Butt- 2 days ago
Ask Raphael: Getting a Tighter Butt- 2 days ago
Ask Raphael: Getting a Tighter Butt- 2 days ago
Ask Raphael: Getting a Tighter Butt- 2 days ago
Ask Raphael: Getting a Tighter Butt- 2 days ago
Ask Raphael: Getting a Tighter Butt- 2 days ago
Ask Raphael: Getting a Tighter Butt- 2 days ago
Ask Raphael: Getting a Tighter Butt- 2 days ago
Ask Raphael: Getting a Tighter Butt- 2 days ago

Twitter is also strange, as it seems to integrate with reading other people's feeds, one person at a time, and not the aggregation of the people you follow. At least the default is not looking at ediet, but the Twitter Blog.

C) It is making an assumption that you can fit the experience on a single page with a flat list of websites to look at, one at a time. A lot of what I look at today is through RSS readers and for that experience what saves me time is that the reader software aggregates each piece of the data on the feeds and display them chronologically, which simplifies the number of clicks that I have to do to read what is going on.

In any way, I think it's a good step forward from Yahoo, but it's not the final solution to what I would call a "personalized portal". Make it cleaner, less colorful, with less intrusive ads and allowing a mixed set of experiences and I might even consider using it.