Yahoo revamps website, takes cue from Facebook

The biggest switch will be in how Yahoo determines which stories to show each visitor on the home page and how the information is displayed.

Kerns says Yahoo has developed more sophisticated formulas to determine which topics are most likely to appeal to different people so the news feed can be fine-tuned to cater to different tastes.

Yahoo, which is based in Sunnyvale, California, already knows a lot about people who have been coming to its website for years, particularly if they logged in while visiting. People willing to connect Yahoo with their social circles on Facebook also are more apt to see stories that appeal to them. That access will enable Yahoo to pick out stories about subjects tied to a person's interests on Facebook, either directly or through their online friendships.

The news feed also has been retooled so it is constantly refreshed with more material as a person scrolls down the page. The ability to endlessly peruse stories is ideally suited for viewing on smartphones and tablet computers controlled by touch, although the feature also works on desktop machines operated with a mouse or keyboard.

Yahoo's new home page also shows snippets of text from each story, borrowing a page from the Google playbook that Mayer helped write. Those summaries may be especially handy on the smaller screens of mobile devices, a growing market that Mayer has said Yahoo must do a better job reaching if the company hopes to bounce back.

To minimize the chances that its story selections will irritate users, Yahoo is also adding controls that make it easy to inform the website about which topics aren't of interest.

The right side of the new home page will be devoted to a stack of capsules that Yahoo calls "utilities.''

The capsules are devoted to weather, finance, sports, friends' birthdays, video clips and Yahoo's Flickr site for photos. Each one can be programmed to automatically show what a user wants to see, such as the weather in a specific city, information about a certain sports teams or the stocks in an individual's investment portfolio. Any of the utilities can be scrapped.

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