New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is rebuilding the venerable Internet company, most visibly this week with the launch of the newly redesigned home page. 

The new Yahoo home page design is being rolled out to desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets, and it attempts to maintain an appropriate balance between the old version and something fresher. The reason, Vice President of Product and Media Mike Kerns told news media, is to avoid doing something “too radical” that might upset the tens of millions of visitors every day, but which includes “some meaningful new changes.”

Learning Your Interests

On the company blog, Mayer posted that, “whether checking the latest news, sports scores, or just searching, Yahoo! has always been about bringing you the very best of the web,” and the redesign provides “a new, more modern experience to do just that.”

The main descriptors for the new user experience are simplicity and personalization. The simplicity is evident in the headline laid across the featured story in the sliding news stories at the top, cleaner and wider display of the next-up stories underneath, and a clean, generously spaced column of leading stories’ headlines/teasers in the column below. Overall, though, there are many similarities in the new layout to the one old.

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Mayer has been pushing personalization as a key part of the company’s strategy going forward. In the new home page, the news feed column begins with a general supply of story topics, but, as the page learns what stories you’re interested in, those kinds of subjects rise to the surface more frequently.

Less of This Kind?

A feature that one wishes existed on television news is an “x” box on the right side of a story, which appears when a user hovers the cursor there. Clicking the x brings up choices of what kinds of stories you would like to see less. For instance, a story entitled “Gingrich accuses Rove of supporting a ‘Tammany Hall’ Republican machine" brings up choices to “show me fewer stories about,” with the choices being “politics, elections, Rove.”

An “undo” link brings the story back. The hover action also brings up the option to share the story via Facebook, Twitter or email. Users can log on with their Yahoo or Facebook ID to get stories shared by friends. Lest you worry that this kind of pruning will soon lead to a shortage of news or sports stories, the column scrolls infinitely, endlessly adding more stories from the bottom when one has scrolled there.

The redesign also includes an effort to bring more of Yahoo’s other properties to the home page, with seven new applications on the right side. A new Quotes app, for instance, allows a user to look up a stock by ticker symbol instead of going to Yahoo Finance. Other apps include viewing a logged-in user’s Flickr photos and birthday reminders about Facebook friends.