Raspberry Chorus: Yahoo’s Newest E-Mail Interface

If you use Yahoo’s e-mail platform and can’t stand its new interface (actually there have been two of them within the past year, with the second one even more irritatingly clunky than the first), raise your hand.

Yahoo's e-mail interface failIf you did, you’re among the scads of people who are unimpressed, irritated or even angry about the changes.

As it turns out, even Yahoo’s own employees are in a negative frame of mind about using Yahoo’s e-mail (or its search tool).

That fact was inadvertently revealed to the world in November when an internal company memo was leaked.  In the memo, Yahoo senior vice president of communications Jeff Bonforte and chief information officer Randy Roumillat wrote:

“Earlier this year we asked you to move to Yahoo Mail for your corporate email account.  25 percent of you made the switch (thank you).  But even if we used the most generous of grading curves … we have clearly failed in our goal to move our co-workers to Yahoo Mail. 

“It’s time for the remaining 75 percent to make the switch.  Beyond the practical benefits of giving feedback to your colleagues on the Mail team, as a company it’s a matter of principle to use the products we make.  (BTW, same for Search.)

Messrs. Bonforte and Roumillat seem to forget that this is America of the 21st Century — not the Soviet Union of the 1960s. 

If three-fourths of a company’s employees won’t use its own products, those products can’t be very good.  And the notion of coercion seems only destined to backfire – witness the leaking of the company memo. 

That’s Raspberry #1.

It doesn’t help that the two principals chose as their e-mail subject line this little bon mot:  “Windows 95 called and they want their mail app back.”

Implying that your recipients are mindless rubes isn’t a way to foster much in the way of cooperation and goodwill …

That’s Raspberry #2.

If Yahoo’s top brass were smart, they’d spend less time trying to pressure their employees – who must know a thing or two about the (de)merits of the interface. 

Instead, they should listen to the millions of Yahoo e-mail account holders who are none-too-pleased with the company’s latest “innovations.” 

That would be Raspberries #3 through #500,000 or so.  And yes, I’m in that category.

Consider comments like these that have been appearing all over cyberspace:

  • “The new Yahoo Mail is awful.  At least Yahoo Classic worked.  I’ll be moving everything I can from Yahoo.  Ugh.”
  • “Yahoo Mail seems as slow as treacle after the recent ‘forced march’ out of Yahoo Classic.  If it doesn’t get better soon, they are not going to have any users left.”
  • “I get buttonholed almost everywhere I go by [Yahoo email] users – including prominent techies – who complain about the new version.”
  • “Yahoo email and search are horrible … Yahoo email needs to be thrown out and rebuilt from scratch.  They need to also get someone who has a clue to create a spam filter.  The ‘stickiness’ of Yahoo email, search and other products sucks, plain and simple.”

This last comment also refers to a related issue.  As Wall Street Journal writer Kara Swisher noted in a story published in the industry website AllThingsD:

“A relentless and vocal group of Yahoo Mail users have been complaining vociferously after the Silicon Valley Internet giant drastically revamped its popular email service in October.  The ire includes a lot of distress over the removal of its tabs function and the addition of a multi-tasking feature in its place.”

As for me, I’d been struggling with the latest e-mail interface for awhile, thinking I might eventually come to like it (or at least to tolerate it).  After a few weeks, I came to the realization that this was never going to happen. 

That’s when I decided to figure out if there was to get the old interface back. 

The good news – at least for now – is this:  You can restore Yahoo Classic email. 

Yahoo doesn’t make it obvious, but by following the steps below, you can get yourself back out of e-mail purgatory:

  • After you open your Yahoo email, click on the small steamboat wheel located at the top right corner and select “Settings” from the dropdown menu.
  • Click on “Viewing Email” … then click on the box at the bottom labeled “Basic” and your screen will update to the classic version of Yahoo email.
  • Click on your browser’s “Back” button, and you will be returned to the original Mail Plus version of Yahoo (with the tabs).

These procedures should work with all of the major browsers (IE, Firefox and Safari).  But you may need to repeat these steps whenever you refresh your browser, or close mail and reopen. 

Even so, that’s way better than having to struggle with the new Yahoo interface.

What are your thoughts?  Do you agree or disagree that the new Yahoo email interface is a “huge leap backwards” in terms of user-friendly functionality?  Please share your comments pro or con with other readers here.

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