pyehouse
19Aug/100

Out with the new, In with the old

So I’ve been using the beta version of Yahoo and I have to say I’m not happy. I’ve presented my feedback and of course gotten no responses (it’s intended to be anonymous and you shouldn’t expect a response). Yet they also haven’t addressed the issues.

The single biggest gripe that I have is the usage of mouseover effects to popup frames. For example, if you visit the site you will see a ‘My Favorites’ section on the left and if you hover your mouse over one of the items in that list, even for a brief moment, a new frame will appear with a bit of content pertaining to that item. The problem is that these frames will cover up other areas of the page that I may be attempting to either read or actually interact with. This means I have to move the mouse away to a “clear” area, wait for the frame to register this and close itself, then move the mouse to the area I’m interested in, trying to either make sure I’m quick enough to not trigger the popups or that I move it through a virtual maze to avoid any of the popup sensitive areas.

The other gripe that I have centers around the main news area in the center column just below the page headers. This consists of a main content area and below that a strip of four items which one can, once again, hover over to change the main content area. In addition there are two very small navigation icons below and to the right of this strip of four items which are used to navigate to the next or previous set of four items. Hovering over one of the four items changes the content area, showing a different photo, a larger headline, a snippet of text and possibly additional related links. Again we have the same mouseover behavior that causes problems. If I hover over the fourth item to make it show up in the content area and then move my mouse to the newly displayed headline to read the full article, I have a very good chance of mousing over the third item and causing it to take up the content area before I get there. Now I have to go back and mouse over the fourth item again, then move up and then left, running the virtual maze to avoid undesired mouseovers.

It gets better though. Let’s suppose I’m just wanting to flip through the various strips to find headlines I might be curious about. So I rest my mouse over one of the tiny navigational icons and start clicking. Then a headline comes along which is three lines tall instead of two lines, containing enough space to force the lines to span an extra vertical area. Now the navigation icons have moved. I adjust my mouse, click again, and find all the headlines are back to two lines and now the navigation icons have moved once more, going up now.

The original Yahoo interface was very click based. You had to click to interact with almost everything, the one exception being the area on the right where you selected one of the content icons and that content (or a subset of it) revealed itself for you to work with. Because this content revealed itself within the same area that the content icons were located within, it felt less frustrating. I knew that was a “danger zone” and could accommodate it accordingly. It wasn’t perfect but it limited the oddities to a small portion of the screen. The new page is mouse position based. Where your mouse is determines what you see. It’s as if they’re trying to do away with clicking as much as possible. I suggest that either they readopt the old method of mouse position popups only affecting the areas where the mouse moved to so as not to interrupt other areas or to revert back to a click based environment, fetching the popups only when you actually click on the item which is currently a mouseover sensor. As for the navigation icons, you can’t avoid possibly having a headline take too much space up. The navigation icons should be a little thicker and span the vertical height that the four element strips take up and should be on each side. The strips will lose some horizontal space as a result, but the user need never move their mouse when navigating the strips and won’t accidentally click left when they meant right.

Unfortunately what I think has happened is that someone got ahold of a new toy, started revamping the web page and forgot the point of it all... making it easier for the user, not more fun for the developer.

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