Yahoo User Intent

Client: Yahoo | Year: 2019-2020 | Role: Lead Designer, User Research

About the Company:

Yahoo is a name synonymous with the internet as it has been around since the early days. It has expanded from a search engine to owning a grand portfolio of products.

The Problem:

Yahoo’s viewership and DAU’s and LIDAU’s were steadily declining and the technology and feature set was slacking behind some of news aggregate competitors. One of these was the lack of personalization of a users “stream”. The stories shows were based on an algorithm but the user had little control over what was shown.

The Challenge:

Create an experience where a user could give explicit signals to personalize what is shown in their stream. This would be pushed out in a 4 stage process and include some implicit as well as explicit signals. The main goal is to improve user retention. By getting to a state where the user can stay up to date on what matters to them most we will be able to bring them back more often. This will be made possible by building a feedback feature that enables the users to provide information about their interests, thus allowing us to improve the pace and precision with which we understand our users.

My Role:

I was the sole designer on this project that ran weekly status meetings, interacted with engineers, and product managers, while also running user testing sessions alongside our user researchers, and prototype demonstrations to our CEO, board and investor panel.


Narrative:

Our users come to Yahoo Home to stay up to date on what matters to them most. The key here is ‘what matters to them’. This makes our job to ‘Sift through the noise and only surface relevant and personalised content for each user’. The pace and precision with which we can get to a state where most of what a user sees on the homepage is based on their interests, the more likely we are to retain the user.

Stage One – Show me more / show me fewer

To improve our understanding of our users and their interests, we will be asking them to provide us with overall feedback about content in the stream. This feedback will be a general/broad spectrum on the entire content piece and allow us to reinforce our inferred signals to understand the user better. From a user standpoint, this feature will function as a Show More / Fewer tool. The feedback will Not be editable or exposed via any feedback management tools. The user will not be required to sign-in to start with but will be requested to do so and will have an artificial limit post which it will be required.



Mobile Web

Prototype:

Click to view

User Testing: We first tested a mobile web version of the feature, with multiple variations tested in random sequence to reduce bias. These variations included multi-sided swipe, single sided swipe, variations of language and variations of icons.

Some key insights:

  • P1 and P4 were able to discover Show More/Less when prompted to manage their feed. Other participants guessed it would be in settings, profile, or under the ellipses (in Two Sided Swipe)
  • Between the One Sided Swipe and Two Sided Swipe, all participants preferred the One Sided Swipe. They were mainly worried about errors and felt it was easier to understand.
  • All participants understood Show More/Less would increase/decrease the amount of similar content in their feed. Some participants thought it would be instantaneous with articles being added/removed immediately, while others thought they would need to refresh the page. Most participants thought it would manage content at a topic or category level, like sports, entertainment, baseball, or Cardinals.
  • Participants expected a wide variety of options under the Ellipses/More Options button including hide article, save/share/download article, and refine Show More/Less setting to a specific topic or category. 
  • A few participants misread “Hide posts from Yahoo Lifestyle” as “Hide post from Yahoo Lifestyle” and thought it would hide the article with no other effects. Participants also misunderstood Yahoo Lifestyle as managing the category of Lifestyle and not the publisher Yahoo Lifestyle.
  • All participants felt positively towards the language used. P2 and P3 thought it could be more specific. P5 felt the color was not intuitive.
  • Participants were asked how they felt about the heart and crossed heart icons and whether they would prefer a thumbs up and down. Overall, participants did not have strong opinions about the icons used. 

Desktop

Prototype:

Click to view

Mocks:

User Intent User Flow

User testing:

Key findings:

  • P2 felt it was difficult to respond with a Thumbs Up or Down without reading the article and was concerned it would contribute to people reading fewer articles.
  • Most participants (P1, P3, P4, P5) thought that they would respond based on whether they liked the article. Others (P2) thought they would respond whether they would recommend the article.
  • All participants understood they would see more basketball, ESPN, or sports stories if they clicked Thumbs Up
  • 4 participants saw that the message change from “Show me more stories like this” to “Great, we will show you more stories like this” when they clicked Thumbs Up. (P4 clicked too quickly to see.)
  • Participants weren’t sure at what level these settings were. Overall, all participants thought they should manage content at the Topic level

Stage Two – Follow

The more granular the feedback we get from the user the better equipped we become to provide them with a robust personalised experience that starts to move beyond just content. By allowing our users to follow or block granular topics/entities we will be able to not only personalise the content but also extend this to the utility modules such as Sports and Finance, and provide the user with targeted notifications.

From a user standpoint this feature will provide them with the following functionality as a ‘Follow’, ‘Unfollow’ & ‘Not Interested’. All the user interests will be captured in a topic management page.

Mocks:


Follow in stream:

User Journey (Desktop):

User Journey (Mobile):

Topic Management Page:

Topic Management screenshot
Style Guide: 

Follow Style Guide – Click here to view