Taking the Yahoo Approach To Happier Users

by on 05/20/2009 • 13 Comments | Usability

I’m slammed today so I’ll make this quick.

If you want happier users, take the new Yahoo approach* and focus your Web site on three things.

  1. Intent
  2. Objects
  3. Openness

Intent

At yesterday’s “The End of the 10 Blue Links” event (happily liveblogged by TechCrunch), Prabhakar Raghavan, head of Yahoo! Labs and Yahoo! Search Strategy, declared that it’s time to kill “10 blue links”. And it was actually really cute because he said it like former Ask CEO Jim Lanzone didn’t say the same thing nearly two years ago (please come back, Jim.). But that’s beside the point. Yahoo is moving beyond the “10 blue links” phase and using tools like Search Assist to focus in on user intent. They know that users have goals (in search and maybe life) and that they’re trying to do something as they move from Web page to Web page (other than finding Google). Yahoo wants to help them to do that.

And guess what? You should be doing the same thing! Searchers are on your site for a reason. They had a need and Google Yahoo told them you were relevant. You need to now prove that you are and give them what they’re looking for.

You do that by matching their intent. Shouldn’t be too hard since you already know their intent, right? You know because they told you when they searched for it, when they used your site search or when they called or emailed you to ask you those ten customer service questions. Your job is to cluster these needs into silos or topic areas and create optimized landing pages so they land on a page specific to that intent. When you make a user enter your site through your home page, you’ve very often confused them because that wasn’t what they were asking for. And if you didn’t confuse them, you’ve at least increased their burden as now they have to find the answer to their question on their own. No one likes a burden. Except emotionally unstable girls attracted to baggage. Don’t be baggage.

Objects

Prabhakar also noted the need to build a “Web of objects from a Web of pages”. Users’ needs are changing as they become more sophisticated searchers and as the Web makes different types of mediums more readily available to them. This is something Yahoo has recognized and is working into its core strategy with things like BOSS and Search Monkey.

Be like Yahoo! Realize that sometimes “giving them what they want” means giving them an object. Just as “10 blue links” is dying, so are the days where a page of text can meet all their needs. Users are looking for shortcuts, engagement objects and things they can “touch” on the Web and take with them. Give them videos. Images. Widgets. Who doesn’t love sexy objects? :) Give them the objects that will keep them coming back.

Openness

You can’t sit on your little island anymore and wait for people to come to you. Yahoo’s been doing a great job of that with Search Monkey, opening up their listings to business owners to provide additional information. They also offer cool stuff to the 15k developers who have signed on.

Openness is the new black.

Get fashionable and open up your Web site to users, too. Bring the community in and encourage them to talk to you, and more importantly, to talk to one another. That means allowing open conversation on blogs, but maybe it also means using applications like Google Friend Connect to turn your site into a mini social network where your visitors can “see” one another and interact. It also means getting off your site and opening your brand up to the other social communities they’re already engaging in. Create a Facebook Fan page, get on Twitter, find them on your industry social sites. Just get out of your bubble and be social elsewhere. Your users are begging you for it. Bring it to them.

Yahoo used its search event yesterday to tell the world about their new goal: Building services that turn Web pages into real-world objects and concepts. You do the same.

[*Yes, I know this isn’t really a "new" idea and Yahoo certainly didn't invent it...but they had their event yesterday and the others didn’t. Even the runner-up deserves some love every once and awhile, right?]

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

13 thoughts on “Taking the Yahoo Approach To Happier Users

  1. I don’t understand why you’re giving people advice on social media. Your Twitter account reeks of ineptitude, snobbery and most everything that is wrong with social media sites. I know this sounds harsh, but I’m being serious. You have to be careful in every professional personality that you assume on the Internet, especially if you’re blatantly tying it to a business. I now take this entire site less seriously because of the rubbish on your Twitter account. You shouldn’t put your professional branding on something that you want people to respect when it contains a bunch of garbage.

    It’s pretty bad when I find your business through a site that is basically making fun of you:

    http://tweetingtoohard.com/

  2. If you take this site less seriously because of what’s on my Twitter account, then I wouldn’t recommend hiring us for services anyway. There are plenty other SEO companies to choose from.

    I’m actually a fan of tweetingtoohard, because I think it’s funny. And have a sense of humor. To each their own. :)

  3. Gotta agree with Robert: SEO companies are ten-a-penny these days, so making yourself like arrogant, witless fool on the web (“Imsoooopretty”)isn’t good PR in a packed market.
    (Your basic writing skills could do with a damn good honing, too.)
    Sense of humour’s very subjective, by the way. Saying you have one, doesn’t make it so in everyone’s eyes.

  4. You know, you guys could try following @outspokenmedia for the “professional” side of the company rather than @lisabarone for her “personal” tweets..

    Seems like an obvious solution to me.. Or, are you suggesting that people have to be 100% professional 100% of the time??

  5. Gotta agree with Robert: SEO companies are ten-a-penny these day

    Not to continue my pattern of being arrogant and witless, but then go hire one of them. If you’re not a fan of my writing, nor wit, then why are you on the Outspoken blog leaving a comment? I can’t please everyone, nor will I try. I am sorry if it doesn’t go along with your ideas of how a good SEO company should act. I’m not sure there’s much I can do about that.

    @lisabarone is a personal Twitter account. Sure, it’s tied to my brand, but it’s my personal space. If you’re not a fan but want to follow Outspoken, we have the @outspokenmedia Twitter account for that, which is 100 percent professional. Or don’t follow either account. That’s what’s great about Twitter and SEO companies. You have a choice.

  6. And I am going to agree with Daniel, but only for the first part of what he says “SEO companies are ten-a-penny these days”. This is quite true Daniel but GREAT SEO companies are not so easy to find.

    OutSpoken Media is made up of very intelligent people who have demonstrated success online and now offer their services to companies in the know. These companies seek out OSM and are clearly aware of the personalities attached to the site.

    Like Lisa said, if you don’t feel their image is appropriate, go hire another one of the SEO companies on your list – Outspoken Media does not need you.

    BTW Lisa rocks and is doing a great job of building her personal brand.

    Oh and Robert – I wonder what kind of “ineptitude” and “snobbery” we would find on your twitter feed or blog or whatever – I bet you are one of the LAME’s who just don’t get it. Sure sounds like it from your comment.

  7. i’d rather know the real (and honest) person of who i have to deal with in business, not the fake face some people try to pull. and if i don’t like your personality, I can go to someone else, doesn’t matter what industry. but i get the feeling since you seem open and honest on twitter, that your work ethic also carries that same weight.

    besides, every tweet doesn’t have to be epic, or even useful. if we all tried for that, we’d all be boring.

  8. i don’t agree with lisa on everything (and thank you, lisa, for acknowledging it) but she and outspoken media get this space. i see tweets on incredibly useful stuff from her that i don’t see from anyone else. i’m occasionally offended by her attitude, but i don’t let that get in the way of my estimation of her professional skills. she’s not my employee, or my boss, or a service provider to me, where those things might matter more. she’s simply one voice in an endless sea of voices on the ins and outs of social media.

    i think it’s interesting, too, that those of you with negative impressions of her professionalism would resort to name calling ( “ineptitude, snobbery, witless,” etc.) which are inherently personal characterizations.

  9. I have to agree with Jami. You comment reflects an exact conversation I had with some local business people just a few weeks ago. People want to know who they are working with. They want to work with someone they like.

    Not everyone is going to like Lisa, or any of us, but if we keep our interactions honest and open the people who do like us will want to work with us.

  10. LOL Robert and Daniel (those are [valley girl voice] so, like for sure your real names [/nods furiously] LOL), if LISA offends you, then you need to pull your hands up from the keyboard, place one hand on the mouse, locate the back button and RUN. To quote the JNJ: “Wait til they get a load of me.”

    P.S. Hey “Daniel” do you know what an IP address is? Seems yours has posted under a few different identities on our blog. And with a little research, it is easy to figure out you all have a relationship to the legal field. Amazing what a little dime a dozen research can turn up. :)

  11. LOL! You’re doing a gr8 job Lisa Barone! Robert and Daniel are most prolly trolls and should be treated as such IMHO.

    But let’s talk for a moment about the concept of professionalism vs “personality” for lack of a better word. The older I get, the more I realize that it matters this much (pinches thumb and forefinger together REALLY tightly) what a person looks like, dresses like, sounds like. As my heroine Clara Peller said so eloquently “Where’s the beef?!”

    In plain words, it’s results rather than suits, ties and shiny shoes that talks the loudest. And I’d rather work with a real person than a dozen “suits” all things being equal. And you, Rae and Rhea are nothing if not real people.

    One last thing…I think your writing ROCKS!!!

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