put it mildly, Yahoo! has had its ups and downs. They’ve become such
fish in a barrel that the mainstream press hardly bothers covering them.
Yet despite having Google and others eat their lunch for so long, they
still do a lot right.
To help with this post I brought in a
guest blogger, my good friend Greg Gibson, whose Elf Needs Food blog
covers videogames, the gaming industry, and movie and book reviews. He’s also on Twitter: @ElfNeedsFood.
I was excited when Google introduced Google News. It made
sense to me at the time: Google’s engineers are so smart that they can
program algorithms that find interesting news much better than people
can, right?!? Wrong. When I want a firehose of information, I go to
popurls.com. When I want the news of the day, in the way I once might
have read a daily newspaper, I go to Yahoo! News. Google News is only
good for their keyword alerts. CNN.com gives me a headache.
Basically, YUI provides everything a front-end web developer/designer
needs, short of HTML and content. Because Yahoo! uses YUI for its own
applications, the code has already been tested at one of the most
visited sites on the web, it has to work in all major browsers, and it’s
likely to be supported and updated for a long time to come.
of YUI’s caliber, but even separately, I’d probably use its tools in my
web projects. YUI’s CSS framework is the best I’ve tried (Blueprint is pretty nice, too).
preference. For example, plenty of people love jQuery, which has a great community that
creates plugins to extend the library. I prefer YUI, because it has so
much included functionality and it mixes in seamlessly with the other
Finally, the genius of YUI isn’t just the
library itself. Yahoo! has stocked the developers’ area of their site
with excellent videos, examples, and documentation, making it easy to
get started with the library — and providing a path to becoming an
3. Yahoo! Finance
I once had a
client who was interested in advertising on Yahoo! Finance. No problem, I
thought. I’ll just find the advertising contact info on their site,
call them up, and I’m sure they’ll be glad to take your money. After
repeated phone calls and voicemails and emails, I got nowhere. I finally
had to call in a favor from an ad agency to get someone’s direct line
at Yahoo!, only to learn that they have separate departments for
handling agency inquiries and direct purchases. I also learned that the
minimum ad buy is $25,000—not a huge sum in the advertising world but
quite different from Google’s $0.01 minimum.
So why is it so
hard to advertise on Yahoo! Finance? Because it’s been a great site
since it launched and they’ve never relinquished their lead. More
importantly, it’s where financial advisors and other sophisticated
investors go—along with the masses. When you ask investment
professionals what sites they visit, the top three are usually CNN, ESPN
and Yahoo! Finance. Yahoo! knows they’ve got a good thing with Finance.
They should still pick up the phone, though.
Yahoo! Movie Showtimes
These no-frills utilities are the best at what they do precisely because
they’re no-frills. When looking up movie times and TV show listings, I
just want the information displayed cleanly and quickly. Yahoo!’s TV and
movie listings meet those two qualifications better than any other site
on the web. (Recently, though, I’ve found myself using iPhone apps for
both these tasks.)
5. Yahoo! Sports
a sports site, I usually want two things: analysis and in-game box
scores (which I usually prefer to animated gamecasts).
the king of reporting on trade rumors, team politics, and sports-related
social issues. These are easy things to write about, because they
require little expertise, just access. But the network seems to have
very few analysts who really understand — or even seem to watch — the
sports they cover.
About a dozen full-time basketball writers
work for ESPN, only two of whom (John Hollinger and Henry Abbott) are
credible hoops junkies. Yahoo’s “Ball Don’t Lie” blog — which is just
one part of their basketball coverage — has just as many. And one of
those contributors, Kelly Dwyer, is the single best basketball analyst
at any mainstream site. He’s a fan, he understands the game, and he can
From a box score, I just want something up-to-date,
quick-loading, and easy on the browser. Yahoo!’s and ESPN’s box score
formats are pretty similar, but Yahoo! does a better job of organizing
data for a quick snapshot of the game in progress. Without scrolling my
browser down, a Yahoo! baseball box score features the inning-by-inning
score, the team lineups, and a display showing many runners are on base,
who’s pitching, who’s up to bat, the current balls-and-strikes count,
and what happened on the last pitch. ESPN’s box scores show only the
(As a recent convert to English Premier
League soccer, Yahoo!’s Eurosport Football site is also the best
gameday resource I’ve found, at least so far.)
Mention: Yahoo! Mail
Yahoo! Mail was once
the clear winner over its competitors—Hotmail and AOL—and then Gmail
came along and squashed them like a bug. I dutifully got a Gmail invite
(from Greg, now that I think about it) but never made the switch, not
completely anyway. The threaded conversations in Gmail are great once
you get the hang of them but sometimes there is comfort in the familiar
way of doing things, even if Google engineers think it’s silly. And
since Yahoo!’s acquisition of Oddpost in 2004 allowed them to introduce
AJAX functionality, they have had a pretty damn good email client. Gmail
is probably better, but to me it’s a marginal difference and not enough
to make me force my friends and family to update their address books.
Mention: Yahoo! Personals
I haven’t used
this site in about eight years, but it did allow my eventual wife to
discover me. I can’t complain about a 100% success rate.