Yahoo! Gets Personal

By joshuaaajoshuaaa (1253903017|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

On September 22, 2009, the new Yahoo! Search was made available for public use. Yahoo!'s brand-new search experience claims to make searching "more personally relevant" by helping users find what is most relevant and important to them (seemingly the general purpose of a search engine). The updated search was created in order to maintain a more consistent front-end as you navigate from Yahoo!'s homepage, to their e-mail client, to their messenger program, and back. In addition, due to the two-in-oneness of Yahoo! and Bing, Yahoo!'s image search technology has also been improved and is nearly identical to that of Bing.

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I have never used Yahoo! for anything more than Fantasy Baseball, and therefore am not too horribly familiar with all of the ins and outs of the program. However, upon reading about the new developments, I decided to do a little digging into the depths of the new Yahoo!.

At First Glance

There were a few things I noticed right away about the new search engine. Being a Mac user, more specifically a Safari user, I have a tendency to use my integrated Google search bar for most of my quick searches. One of the more recent developments Google has made is to increase the font size of their text input. Yahoo! has also adopted the larger font, and seems to have increased their text boldness as well. I also like how the new Yahoo! gives you links on the left hand side of the screen which lead to the main sites that produced the most results in the search.

For example I searched for [Detroit Tigers] in both Yahoo! and Bing and was greeted by practically the same results on both sites. However, Yahoo! lets me filter my results so that I can see only results from ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, or mLive.

Search Pad

One of the most highly anticipated innovations to grace the new Yahoo! search is the Search Pad function. Search Pad is like an integrated note-taking program that tracks your search history and allows you to make notes and "bookmark" necessary searches and websites. Not only does it track your current viewing history, but it can also remember prior searches that you choose to save, as long as you have a Yahoo! ID. Say you are planning your spring break adventure for this upcoming March, but you lose track of time and have to rush off to class. Instead of keeping your browser open (along with all of the tabs that you surely opened during your search), you can simply save your most pertinent websites in Search Pad, along with any note or memo you wish to pair with it. Once you are finished searching and are ready for your trip, you can publish your Search Pad results to a permanent URL, or even Twitter, Facebook, or Delicious.

Other Changes

Image Search
In the same vein as Bing, Yahoo! can now better interpret your image searches and suggest similar and/or related people, events, films, and concepts. While Bing does this for almost any search, Yahoo! is still limited to only big names (i.e. it will return related people for Alex Rodriguez but not Brandon Inge, whereas Bing produces related topics for Brandon Inge as well).

Improved Page Load Time
Not only does the new Yahoo! search load its pages faster, but the way in which it loads them has also changed. Yahoo! wrote the new codes from scratch, allowing them to only write the programs they need. This allows the pages to actually load faster. The new pages load in three stages:

  1. Search box and page header
  2. Other visible content
  3. JavaScript

These stages ensure that the most user-important elements of the page are produced first, allowing us to breeze through our search.

Conclusion

With the still somewhat recent merger between Microsoft's Bing and Yahoo!, the combined efforts of the two are beginning to produce a likable alternative to Google. While it remains unknown whether or not they will prove a significant foe, I believe competition between these search engine giants will continue to benefit their users.

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