Dear Yahoo: If you’d like us to read, clear away the clutter

Yahoo cluttered page 2

I don’t usually follow news on Yahoo. In the early days of the web, I used Yahoo as my home page, appreciating the ability to aggregate information. I grew weary of the clutter, though, and abandoned Yahoo long ago.

I was reminded of that this week when I came across this page as I curated my ScoopIt site.  The quality of Yahoo’s information has always been solid, and I wanted to read the article. But that clutter. Trying to read the article was like working an archaeological dig. The information I sought lay hidden beneath banners and advertisements, logos and links, menus and doodads. Yes, doodads. I’m not sure what else to call the detritus lurking outside the boundaries of the page.

As I almost always do these days, I activated the Clearly plugin on my browser, wiping away the clutter and leaving me with just the headline, the photograph and the article. Ahh, I could read.

News is a challenging business online. The advertising that fits easily and mostly unobtrusively into the columns of print publications – and pays for news operations – feels like an assault online. If we want high-quality information, we have to pay for it some way, either with subscription fees or with eyeball time with advertising.

So I sympathize with Yahoo, and I wish it well in its effort to remake a flagging web portal. The company announced this week that it was buying Tumblr, a company known for its innovative format for web pages. I can only hope that some of Tumblr’s design savvy rubs off on Yahoo.

I’d suggest some Johnny Nash for inspiration.

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