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Yahoo gets a face-lift

Following a month-long beta test, the Net directory and gateway posts an updated version of the site, including a right-side navigation box.

Leading Net directory and gateway site Yahoo over the weekend posted a redesign of its site.

Although the popular site looks somewhat different, especially with the addition of a right-hand navigation bar, the new look isn't major surgery--just a face-lift with a few strategic nips and tucks.

"We consider this design more an evolution than a revolution," said Tim Brady, executive producer and vice president of production for Yahoo. In fact, Brady emphasized that the directory itself was largely left untouched.

Yahoo had posted a beta version of the site for about a month and used the feedback to help shape the new site.

Net companies have to deal with an inherent contradiction: to stay competitive they must constantly revamp and innovate their sites--however, individual users generally don't like change.

Redesigning the site was "absolutely a tough decision," Brady said. "That's why we've been in beta for a month. Although the changes may seem small and cosmetic, it took us six months to do the appropriate research. Being the leader forced us to do our homework better. The stakes are high."

In the ongoing battle for traffic and the ad dollars it attracts, Yahoo and its competitors, such as Excite and America Online, are constantly adding new features, including free email and chat.

Yahoo wanted to highlight its new features, so it added a right-hand navigation bar with sections called "In the News" and "Inside Yahoo."

The redesign also is aimed at helping Yahoo's advertisers gain more recognition on their site by "framing" banner ads at the top of navigation pages to bring them out and by building in specific places for advertiser buttons that link users to commerce sites.