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A Worthy Rant From Danny on Yahoo Search

By - September 15, 2009

Danny Sullivan over at SEL has really teed off on Yahoo’s search strategy, and any time he goes off, it’s worth a read.

From it:


Got it? Write it down, someone come check back on this in five years. If Yahoo’s moved up in search share thanks to outsourcing search and just toying with the user interface, I’ll eat those words somehow — covered even in Yahoo purple frosting.

No one has succeeded as a general search engine just by making user interface changes. No one, in the past nearly 15 years of us having search engines. That’s like 150 “real” years. (For more, see A Search Eulogy For Yahoo and Why Search Sucks & You Won’t Fix It The Way You Think)

The interview ticked me off in other ways. Bartz downplayed search as something people spend only 3% of their time on. Hey, I don’t spend all my time shopping. But who do you think makes more money off of me, places I shop at or television stations that deliver me entertainment?

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3 thoughts on “A Worthy Rant From Danny on Yahoo Search

  1. JG says:

    Um, I don’t work for Yahoo! so I cannot state the following with any voice of authority.

    But I’m pretty certain that Yahoo!’s strategy around UI innovation doesn’t just involve picking the best of 43 shades of blue. It doesn’t involve just shiny buttons and floating bubbles and arrows or whatever.

    No, Yahoo! has the freedom to take the raw results from Bing and remix and insert and delete and refactor and shuffle. In short, Yahoo! has complete freedom to implement what Danny in 2006 called the “invisible tabs” model.

    Like it or not, an “invisible tab” is a UI design element.

    A user interface isn’t just a graphical widget. It never was. A user interface is that which the user can interact with and manipulate. A user interface is something that shows the internal “state” of the computer to the user.

    And so if Yahoo! starts remixing Bing results to create a better overall interaction experience, it will in every sense of the word be manipulating and changing the user interface.

    Don’t think so narrowly, Danny!

  2. jamie keaney says:

    A great user experience creates loyal and return visitors, ask Google.

    Yahoo is testing to find a simple and intuitive UI to get a better user experience. I agree, they’re not going to gain a greater search share by fixing their UI alone, but it will help contribute to it and certainly shouldn’t lower their share.

    My only complaint is how long it’s taking. Seems testing has been going on for months. With 60-70MM hits a day you’d think they’d figure it out faster.

  3. Yahoo! actually unveiled a major innovation in search technology alongside the new UI and all but ignored it.

    Danny makes a valid point. If Yahoo! wants people to believe it intends to compete in the search industry, then Yahoo! needs to take pride in its search technology innovations.

    Yahoo! could certainly use a much leaner user interface but every advance its engineers make in helping users find relevant content should be proclaimed from all the rooftops in the land.

    Yahoo! missed a great opportunity to take points away from Google.