At this week's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff introduced Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer as “one of the most spectacular new leaders ever.” Mayer took the stage with Benioff to talk about Yahoo’s mobile-first approach and a renewed energy around modernizing and simplifying the user experience.
Web pioneer Yahoo, long ago abandoned by many users in favor of Google, may see a resurgence as Mayer’s leadership places a strong emphasis on re-energizing Yahoo’s core suite of products, which users most frequently access via mobile.
“It’s mail, maps, news, weather, stock quotes, games, sharing photos, and the list goes on and on," said Mayer. "What’s crazy is when you actually list all of those out, if you listen for a second, it might be what people do on their phones, or it might be Yahoo’s core offerings since the very beginning." As indisputable proof that Mayer is on the right track, Yahoo bested Google in unique visitors for the first time in over two years this past July, marking an over-20% year-over-year increase in unique visitors for Yahoo.
The secret, Mayer believes, is designing for the mainstream mobile user, not the most expert or least experienced. Developing a “useful vs. usable” approach to design and functionality, Mayer’s focus on simple, effective, mobile-first design makes Yahoo a major contender for the hearts and minds of users frustrated by Google’s increasing complexity.
Between confusing auto-tabbed inboxes, difficult-to-find apps and icons, and near-constant iterations that change the user experience more often than necessary, Google seems to be moving in the opposite direction. A 13-year Google alum, Mayer’s simplification of Yahoo’s offerings is a breath of fresh air to users looking for a simple, reliable way to use the features they access frequently. Those in digital industries often shun friends and colleagues not using Gmail and other Google products, but Mayer’s keynote at Dreamforce leaves us wondering: will we switch back to Yahoo?
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