The first thing you'll notice about the new Yahoo! homepage  is that it is easier to read. Like the new phone you got your great grandmother  for Christmas, the buttons are larger, easier to find, and with identifiable artwork. For design, whoever was in charge of throwing a pin-stripe gradient behind everything has since been replaced with plain white, with a pinch #EEEEEE to fulfill job description requirements. But it works, after all, clean is the new cluttered .
There is a continued focus on the Y! homepage being a news destination, but we are now seeing the expansion of the left sidebar into a personalized bookmark feature. This may be a slight change, but a nice reaction to iGoogle (I'm not even going to mention Y! Pipes ). Particularly interesting is the default setting to include Facebook  and MySpace . And if you chose to add their default set of suggested sites you will find a more expansive collection of communication portals and popular blogs. A nice grab to really get yahoo.com as your start page, even if the Facebook hover functionality is more limiting than the FB iPhone App (zing!). However, the left sidebar looks a bit more user-friendly than in actuality. You'll find that if you try to add a site from your own collection that you will simply be treated to what their listing looks like on a SERP (upon hovering over the added site that is). Granted, if you are simply going to be setting yahoo.com as your browser default, this takes the place of your top bookmarks. But if you thought this might be a good place for an RSS reader you are going to have to come to that conclusion on your own (I couldn't find any directions, even though most of their preset sites  are simply feeds). The overall tone of the new site seems to be directing less traffic away from Yahoo's own content and offering easier access to third party destinations. Which again, seems to be a play at making Yahoo! your start page. Although understandable, it is interesting that Yahoo sees their homepage traffic as more valuable than second tier content. But then again, who am I kidding, no one is going to get front page real estate without slipping the Y! doorman a twenty. My final jab at the new Yahoo! is the replacement of the Member Features area with a Popular Searches section. I would like to assume that this is Yahoo's version of Twitter's Trending Topics  feature. But without proper labeling and with the different nature of tweets versus search queries, this just looks like Yahoo saying to their visitors, "You are a sheep. You have just turned on your computer, opened up IE 6 and have no idea what to do next. So just click on what everyone else is clicking on." But then again, maybe we are just sheep . All in all, I think this is a big improvement and I hope this helps earn Yahoo more share in the search market. And they went purple too. That is a bold move, especially in a market where your biggest competitor was so caught up on the color selection question they chose all of them . Okay, I'll add one more social optimization critique. This might be a bit nit-picky, but your homepage logo is a CSS background. I know, a lot of people are doing it. But this is 2009 and you are Yahoo. Maybe it is ridiculous to think that someone would post a link to the Yahoo homepage on a social  sharing  site (and that site would try and automatically find a thumbnail image to accompany the link), but you need to set an example.