New Yahoo E-Mail: Is It Improved?

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Yahoo! e-mail users discovered a new look in their desktop and mobile inboxes this week, as the company launched a redesign of the interface focused on speed, intuitive navigation, and, oh yeah, getting us back from that pesky Gmail.

yahoo mail

Company President and CEO Marissa Mayer announced the change on their corporate blog:

You’ve told us loud and clear that you want fewer distractions when it comes to email. You want to quickly login, communicate, and get on with your day. And we’ve listened. Starting today, the new Yahoo! Mail is fast, easy and available anywhere you go. These improvements will be available on all major platforms: Web, Windows 8, iPhone/iPod touch and Android.

Mayer's announcement focused on mobile access, where every business wants and seems to need to be to capture eyeballs and clicks from users with access to new options every second. Yahoo was second only to Hotmail in decline of use of Web-based e-mail this year, down 16 percent from September, 2011 to September, 2012. Increased reliance on texting (especially for young adults and teenagers) and a tendency to check e-mail more on mobile devices than desktops are two primary reasons. 

Still, Gmail? Up 16 percent. 

In addition to the free account I picked up at least a decade ago, I have used the small business version of Yahoo! e-mail for several years. I've likely been one of the company's favorite kinds of clients: busy, information and tech-saturated, and lazy enough with my daily routine that I'm a minor flight risk who will keep paying a monthly fee for extra storage and a few other perks, although I have a Gmail account as my primary means of communication throughout the day.

Why keep it? Well, my Yahoo! mail is tied to my personal domain name, so I use it for correspondence that I want to reflect my truly professional presence, like sending a pitch or a resume. Just try unleashing yourself from a long-held e-mail account. If you can, and don't immediately need access to a service that can only be accessed by logging in with that very account name of course it can, you're savvier than I am.

And now that the Yahoo! mobile experience is better, and my Gmail is attached to more and more spam lately, and seems to be eating important outgoing messages and wrecking up my day on a few notable occasions, who knows? I may be motivated to use my "lauriewrites" Yahoo! account even more. 

What was different when I logged into Yahoo! mail this week? There were no ads at the top, for one thing, and the "What's New" tab that used to pop up with the Yahoo News home page is hidden in the small business version.

The logo and text are very, well, purple, so color branding is intact. The link to my main Yahoo! profile, and the free account that I've had since the aughts, is up in the right hand corner. I still don't go there very much, because that's where I send mail that I know right away is going to be spam city, for one thing. And honestly, the connection between the free and small business account is still clunky and unreliable. I don't understand why this is, and find it very annoying. The free account's id name and associated profile still seems to be what everything beyond my e-mail that I can access in Yahoo! hinges upon, and yet, I can't switch easily back and forth between the two. Since the reported ease of connection to social profiles with this upgrade, including Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube, will likely be better accessed through the free account than what I see in small business, I hope that I can get to them, because that would be a major perk for me. 

Dear Marissa, fix this, too, and I may never leave you. 

So. The new Yahoo! seems at first glance and use to be an easy, inoffensive set-up, with a few weird glitches, and therein I just described pretty much every platform I use for life and work. It's not sexy, in the overused and somewhat icky tech sense of the word, but really, after more than a decade of sifting through services and piles of spam just to get my correspondence, I don't care, so maybe this is another sign of the simplicity backlash after years of complicated upgrades to what seems like everything, ever.

E-mail, like it, love it, or getting ever more tired of it, is the glue and engine of our personal and professional lives, and the easier and simpler access, the better, I say. 

Since she joined Yahoo in July, Mayer has clearly launched, or maybe just fast-tracked, the improvement and repurposing of some bedrock services, especially mobile (can we talk about the Flickr upgrade? Maybe I'll do that tomorrow, because talk about bringing sexy back. Well done, Yahoo!) Whether this will be enough to bring Gmail users back to an old fold remains to be seen. I think it'll take way more service integration, because frankly you can't swing a cursor without hitting some Google-centric basic web function, and probably some more image management to minimize Yahoo e-mail comparisons with Hotmail, AOLMail, and other frequent references to that which is so last-decade. 

Do you still Yahoo! e-mail? If you do, what do you think about the new interface? 

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