Yahoo’s launched a new beta of their Yahoo! News service.
While at first glance it looks largely like a UI refresh (which Yahoo! has been busy doing across its network), there are some interesting improvements (and oddities) worth mentioning…
Of particular interest is how sources are presented. Rather than being off to the side, they are now, tabbed headers (e.g., AP, USAToday, etc) within a given news category (e.g., Top Stories, Sports, etc). Moreover, UI state is persisted across sessions; that is, if you click to view Top Stories via the WashingtonPost, you’ll get the same view if you close your browser and come back to Yahoo! News in another session. Very nice.
On the kookiness front… within each news category, there’s an option named My Sources, which presumably allows you to add an information source of your choosing to the default set of tabs.
Nope. Instead, you get to choose from a very incomplete list of Yahoo selected RSS sources (with no free-form entry option, no search, and no directory). If you select a source, it gets added to your MyYahoo page automatically (whether you wanted that to happen or not) and tossed into a list in the My Sources tab.
Funky. I understand that this approach fits well with their container metaphor, but it means that explicit user choices are secondary to Yahoo’s default tab structure! While it certainly would not create the best experience, it seems more fitting to add user selected sources to the “MORE FROM” bin (which should be at the bottom of every category, not just the Top Stories category), so that they’re always visible.
Speaking of MORE FROM… wow, what a feeling it must be for proud news brands like KR, NPR, etc., to be in the “oh yeah, these guys have $0.02 to add too” bin. Is Yahoo! playing the artificial scarcity game, looking for fees or other concessions in exchange for slotting/placement (sure feels like it)?
If that’s not the case, how about providing a profiling option to create a custom set of default tabs per user (and give users direct control to modify their set of tabbed sources)?