Yes, this nonprofit management consultant is going to offer advice for a for-profit company on the ropes. I know it’s usually the opposite – corporations tell mission-based organizations – nonprofits, government agencies, schools, etc. – how they should do this or that. But there’s a LOT the for-profit world can learn from the mission-based world – and from very average computer users. And I’ve been a long-time Yahoo user – and have found myself migrating to other services, particularly over the last five years. Yahoo should listen to me!
Let’s start with that word mission. Yahoo, what is your mission? Why do you exist, beyond to make money so you can pay staff and shareholders? I don’t know what your mission is. You need a clear mission statement that guides every business decision you make – and keeps you from engaging in activities that get you as muddled as you are now.
Yahoo home page & news search site
Let’s look at the Yahoo home page or the Yahoo news site in comparison to, say, your arch rival’s, Google’s home page or the Google news site. What I see when I look at your pages: a bloated mess. What I experience: memory-hungry sites that take forever to download unless I’m on the very best computer, sites that like some browsers but not others. Sites that seem to have no reason behind the design – my eye has no idea where to go. The experience is frustrating and confusing.
Your guiding principle in your redesign should be quick to download. Put posters up all over your offices that say lightening-fast to download. Test and retest the design on a variety of devices and operating systems. Download speeds need to be lightening fast for everyone, not just those with incredibly fast Internet connections and using the same tools as your web designers.
Your news site search also seems to be broken, and has been for many, many months: I’ve often heard breaking news on TV, or want to look up the results of a sports event that has been over for a few hours, even 24 hours. I’ve used your search site to find those results, and the results are, more often than not, not the latest. I’m tired of looking up the results of a game that’s long over and getting back stories published the day before the game ever happened. I go to Google and get the results I need. So – FIX THIS.
That said, the results page for your news site search has the kind of design the rest of your site needs: simple, easy to navigate, easy to read.
Yahoogroups is a far superiour platform for online discussion groups and online collaboration than LinkedIn groups or GoogleGroups. The web interface is much easier to read and navigate than those platforms – although it could use a refreshing upgrade (but not anything that will make it more bloated in terms of bandwidth!). I cannot count how many times someone tells me they need an online tool that will allow them to collaborate with remote staff or students, or allow members of a project to share a calendar, have a shared but publicly-private message space for a group or class, and various other features – when they say they want a basic cloud-based, file-sharing platform – and when I show them YahooGroups, they say, “This has everything I need! How did I not know about this?”
How did they not know about YahooGroups? You don’t advertise it. I’m a better advocate for this service of yours than you are!
In addition to all the advanced features, YahooGroups allows for group members who do not want to join Yahoo to receive and respond to messages via email – and, like it or not, there are still millions of folks who prefer to interact with online groups that way. That’s a major draw to YahooGroups among some folks I work with.
Push Yahoogroups! Have people talking about it at conferences and on various online fora where people are asking, “Where can I find a group that does this and this and this?” Advertise it on TV. Highlight organizations, families, and other groups that love it oh-so-much and are using it for so many different reasons.
Want to make money with it? I would happily pay a monthly fee to get rid of the advertising. I’m not alone. Offer an affordable rate – say, $100 a year – for a group to have all ads removed from the web site and from emails sent from the group. I’d pay that for my group, which I use to distribute my newsletter, Tech4Impact.
Interesting that most people I work with also have Yahoo IM, and have for years. Since my colleagues all use cross-platform IM tools (I use Adium), what platform we all have should be moot, yet so many of us are still on Yahoo. But that could change. Are you going to keep Yahoo super-simple to use and integrate with other IM platforms? Are you going to make it the fastest and most reliable, or are you going to bloat it up with features that will eat up bandwidth?
I have my own domain name and, therefore, my own custom email address. Yet, I also have a Yahoomail account too: I like using it for ecommerce (for anything I buy online) and the spam filter rocks. And the text isn’t as tiny as Googlemail – and I’m so tired of tiny online text. Advertise Yahoomail!
Get rid of Shine. Or radically alter it.
I don’t want advice on shoes (unless it’s advice for motorcycle boots), I don’t read horoscopes and loathe any publication that thinks it’s what women want, and I need advice for saving money that has less to do with bargains at department stories (how to get that designer look for less!) and more to do with how to save money on utility bills, water bills, rent, gas, etc. Movie news is fun – but I would prefer information about the best places to go in Canada or Mexico for single women travelers, how to get started kayaking in my 40s, the realities of starting a dog-walking business, certifications offered through most community colleges that can help my career prospects, the easiest veggies to grow in a tiny space, etc. I want something that it fierce and funny and intelligent. Partner with the people behind the magazine Bust and do something that women would actually like to read every day.
YahooAnswers is NOT living up to its potential. It could be awesome. Instead, the same questions are getting asked again and again on YahooAnswers. Some version of I’m 13/14 and I want to volunteer in my hometown with animals. How can I do that? gets posted to the community service section EVERY DAY. YahooAnswers needs a FAQs, with answers. And you need to pay some experts to regularly monitor and answer questions in certain sections, to ensure people are getting quality answers. For instance, give PeaceCorps and Girl Scouts small grants to cover their staff time for spending a few minutes every day on YahooAnswers and answering questions regarding their respective organizations.
QUIT MESSING WITH FLICKR. Photos already take up a lot of bandwidth – stop adding scripts and other “features” that make it even more bloated!
I never see your staff on TV being interviewd or offering commentary. I don’t hear about your staff doing something wacky, or philanthropic, or participating in take-your-dog-to-work day. I don’t see or hear them at the conferences I go to. I don’t see them hosting webinars to help different business sectors, including nonprofits, to get the most our of the Interwebs. You’re just this faceless company, a fortress, with web offerings that are, more and more, not what I want or need. I don’t see you sponsoring or participating in things like AIR events by Knowbility.
Who are you, Yahoo? How are you going to let me know who you are? Woo me, Yahoo. Woo me.