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Guinea pigs squeal over Yahoo home page test

Some people selected to try the new Yahoo home page don't like it. One top complaint: it's harder to check e-mail. Another: Yahoo won't let selected users out of the test.

Some people Yahoo selected to test a revamp of its home page aren't happy with their involuntary guinea pig status.

On the blog post from Tapan Bhat announcing the new Yahoo front page, the commentary begins with a number of favorable comments and several requests by people who want to try it out, but soon, the complaints start bubbling up too.

A common complaint is that it's harder for a user to get to e-mail.

"I do not like this. I did not ask for it to be changed. It scares me that you have control over my computer to change only mine in the office and no one else's," wrote user Terri. "E-mail sucks. You have to go through four screens before you can read your e-mail. I want the old Yahoo back. You changed this; I did not. How do I change it back?"

Wrote user AG55: "Terrible! Takes too long to get to e-mail. Extra steps....yuck. I'm all for new, but make it more efficient."

User dlfarley thought he'd been hijacked to another site, but once he figured out it was a beta test, gave Yahoo a thumbs-up for an easy-to-use, fast site.

And alstrooper griped, "I have written to the support group to find out how to get the original Yahoo page back. The answer is, you cannot. I am now stuck with having to click and navigate multiple times to get to my normal e-mail screen instead of doing it in one click. I used to be able to hover over the weather icon to see current weather quickly; now I have to take the time to log in, navigate, and click. With all the negative feedback I have read on this board and zero response from Yahoo, I can only assume they do not care, and longtime users will move on out of sheer frustration."

Yahoo said it randomly picked users for "bucket testing," in which it compares how things work for users in different buckets. Because the company wants to get statistically significant results, not the biased ones that come from those who self-select, it won't let people in or out of the test. Future phases of the test will implement new features, and presumably, the company will notice if people overall reject the new site by using it less.

Update 2:02 p.m. PDT: Yahoo had this to say about the change: "Yahoo is committed to creating innovative, easy-to-use products. When making changes to, one of the most trafficked pages on the Web, we understand that it is important to carefully test our innovations and listen to our users. Not every person will like every change, but we value all feedback and strive to keep consumers at the heart of our product development process. Testing and gathering user feedback have always been a significant part of our product development process, and we encourage people in the test groups to send us feedback via a link at the top of the new page."

Yahoo redesign, home page
Yahoo is testing a new home page. The new site is more personalized and customizable. This version is a 'baseline' for user testing; Yahoo will add more features later. (Click to enlarge.) Yahoo