New Look and Features Unveiled in Yahoo News Beta

One area that I like to pay special attention to is news search and tonight some info about a revamped Yahoo News home page and a few new features that Yahoo News will begin beta testing by midday Thursday.

Update: The beta is now live.

As you know Yahoo News uses a combination of human editors, hosted content (feeds from over 100 sources like the AP and Reuters), and a searchable algorithmic database (crawling more than 7000 sources) to power the site. Mark Glaser’s recent Online Journalism Review article provides a great behind the scenes look at Yahoo News.

So, what should you look for when the changes go live sometime Thursday?

+ A new layout for Yahoo News home page. Tabbed links to news category pages (Top Stories, U.S., Business, etc.) are now linked tabs at the top of the page. They used to be listed in a column on the left site of the page.

+ Boxes containing headlines of top stories in various categories are now visible on the home page. The entire page can be customized (categories added/removed and reordered). The Top Stories category cannot be removed.

+ It’s now possible to view headlines from various sources without having to click off the home page. For example, clickable tabs allow you to quickly see Top News headlines from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other sources that Yahoo has relationships with.

+ A tab labeled “My Sources” allows you the option to add RSS feeds from various sources (both mainstream news and blogs) selected by Yahoo’s news editors. Interesting to note that Yahoo doesn’t use the word RSS at all here.

+ A few months ago Yahoo began beta testing YQ, their contextual search technology and starting Thursday, you’ll begin seeing YQ technology embedded into news stories that Yahoo hosts. The Yahoo News team has developed a glossary of terms. If one of those terms appears in a Yahoo News story, it’s hyperlinked with a chevron placed next to the link. A click will open up a YQ box containng a few news headlines for that term and links to run a web search, image search, a news image search. In some cases, let’s say for a sports story, you’ll find links to a teams homepage, team stats, etc.

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