Saturday, February 03, 2007

Exclusive Interview: Larry Cornett, Yahoo Director Of User Experience Design

A good interview about Yahoo! usability ...

"This week I caught up with Larry Cornett, the relatively new Director of User Experience Design at Yahoo and Kathryn Kelly, Director of PR for Yahoo! Search. Again, to set the stage for the interview, here are some high level findings from our eye tracking study that I'll be discussing in more detail with Larry and Kathryn.

Emphasis on Top Sponsored Results

In the study we found Yahoo emphasized the top sponsored results more than either Microsoft or Google. They showed top sponsored results for more searches and devoted more real estate to them. This had the effect of giving Yahoo! the highest percentage of click throughs on top sponsored, but on first visits only. On subsequent visits the click through rate on these top sponsored ads dropped to a rate lower than what was found on Google or Microsoft.

Better Targeted Vertical Results

Yahoo's vertical results, or Shortcuts, seem to be better targeted to the queries used by the participants in the survey. Especially for commercial searches, Yahoo did a good job disambiguating intent from the query and providing a researcher with relevant vertical results in the product search category.

How Searching from a Portal Impacted the Search Experience

When we look at how the search experience translated from a portal page where the query is launched to the results page, we found that Yahoo had a greater spread of entry points on the actual search results page. This brings up the question of how launching a search from a portal page rather than a simple search page can impact the user experience and their interaction with the results they see.

I had the chance to ask Larry and Catherine about the Yahoo search experience and how their own internal usability testing has led to the design and the experience we see today. Further I asked them about their plans for the future and what their strategy is for differentiating themselves from the competition, namely Microsoft and Google. One difference you'll notice from Marissa's interview last week is the continual reference to Yahoo's advertisers as key stakeholders in the experience. At Yahoo, whenever user experience is mentioned, it's always balanced with the need for monetization."    (Continued via Search Engine Land)    [Usability Resources]

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