Yahoo! Traffic to Yahoo! Mail

28 Feb 2007 - 10:11pm
7 years ago
2 replies
536 reads
Todd Warfel
2003

I'm curious about something that perhaps some of our fellows at
Yahoo! can shed some light on. I'm wondering what percent of visitors
access Yahoo! Mail from the Yahoo! home page rather than directly
from Yahoo! Mail. Also, are there any stats that indicate how many
people have their home page set to Yahoo! vs. something else?

Here's some context. A few years ago we were working w/Cornell for a
site that combines content with a number of applications. Similar in
that respect to Yahoo! Some of the directors argued that people don't
come in through the home page, but rather directly by bookmarking the
project/application. Our research was indicating otherwise. Based on
traffic analysis and ethnographic-based interviews, we found a little
over 70% actually typed in the main URL and then accessed the
application. The reasons? Well, we found the following contributed:
1. The main domain was easier to remember than the domain to the app
2. It's very typical to have an unmanageable, unnavigable list of
bookmarks. So, while people were bookmarking things, they tended to
avoid their bookmarks when possible - "I need a way to search through
and organize my bookmarks."
3. Members/participants/customers were often accessing from work and
their work machines had default home pages set to the company
intranet page - they never changed it.

So, does anyone have data that either validates, or challenges these
findings? Again, I think Yahoo! is probably the closest to the model
we were up against.

(BTW, I know the most correct answer is to simply look at the log
files for the current site/application, but you know how stake
holders and researchers (like me) like to get additional data).

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

Comments

1 Mar 2007 - 10:54am
tristan blanc-brude
2006

Hi,

Interesting findings, I'm wondering also how many people access Yahoo! Mail
from a search engine instead of typing in the url (that would probably mean
that they don't use Yahoo! to search)

cheers

Tristan

2007/3/1, Todd Zaki Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com>:
>
> I'm curious about something that perhaps some of our fellows at
> Yahoo! can shed some light on. I'm wondering what percent of visitors
> access Yahoo! Mail from the Yahoo! home page rather than directly
> from Yahoo! Mail. Also, are there any stats that indicate how many
> people have their home page set to Yahoo! vs. something else?
>
> Here's some context. A few years ago we were working w/Cornell for a
> site that combines content with a number of applications. Similar in
> that respect to Yahoo! Some of the directors argued that people don't
> come in through the home page, but rather directly by bookmarking the
> project/application. Our research was indicating otherwise. Based on
> traffic analysis and ethnographic-based interviews, we found a little
> over 70% actually typed in the main URL and then accessed the
> application. The reasons? Well, we found the following contributed:
> 1. The main domain was easier to remember than the domain to the app
> 2. It's very typical to have an unmanageable, unnavigable list of
> bookmarks. So, while people were bookmarking things, they tended to
> avoid their bookmarks when possible - "I need a way to search through
> and organize my bookmarks."
> 3. Members/participants/customers were often accessing from work and
> their work machines had default home pages set to the company
> intranet page - they never changed it.
>
> So, does anyone have data that either validates, or challenges these
> findings? Again, I think Yahoo! is probably the closest to the model
> we were up against.
>
> (BTW, I know the most correct answer is to simply look at the log
> files for the current site/application, but you know how stake
> holders and researchers (like me) like to get additional data).
>
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd Zaki Warfel
> Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
> Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
> ----------------------------------
> Contact Info
> Voice: (215) 825-7423
> Email: todd at messagefirst.com
> AIM: twarfel at mac.com
> Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
> ----------------------------------
> In theory, theory and practice are the same.
> In practice, they are not.
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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1 Mar 2007 - 3:56pm
cfmdesigns
2004

>From: Todd Zaki Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com>
>Sent: Feb 28, 2007 7:11 PM
>To: IxDA Discuss <discuss at ixda.org>, IA Institute <iai-members at lists.iainstitute.org>
>Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Yahoo! Traffic to Yahoo! Mail
>
>I'm curious about something that perhaps some of our fellows at
>Yahoo! can shed some light on. I'm wondering what percent of visitors
>access Yahoo! Mail from the Yahoo! home page rather than directly
>from Yahoo! Mail. Also, are there any stats that indicate how many
>people have their home page set to Yahoo! vs. something else?
>
>Here's some context. A few years ago we were working w/Cornell for a
>site that combines content with a number of applications. Similar in
>that respect to Yahoo! Some of the directors argued that people don't
>come in through the home page, but rather directly by bookmarking the
>project/application. Our research was indicating otherwise. Based on
>traffic analysis and ethnographic-based interviews, we found a little
>over 70% actually typed in the main URL and then accessed the
>application. The reasons? Well, we found the following contributed:
>1. The main domain was easier to remember than the domain to the app
>2. It's very typical to have an unmanageable, unnavigable list of
>bookmarks. So, while people were bookmarking things, they tended to
>avoid their bookmarks when possible - "I need a way to search through
>and organize my bookmarks."
>3. Members/participants/customers were often accessing from work and
>their work machines had default home pages set to the company
>intranet page - they never changed it.

Something like Yahoo! Mail fits into a particular class of web apps, I think, because the vast majority of its users are going to be barely computer literate. (That's not intended as an insult, just an observation.) A lot of the users know how to start the browser and type in the URL to get to their e-mail, but stuff about varying URLs, bookmarks, start pages, and all that are beyond their scope.

There are numerous ways to get to something like Yahoo! Mail:
* Type in the direct URL
* Type in the portal URL and click on the Mail icon
* Go to a search engine -- maybe the Google search box in Safari -- rather than directly to a Yahoo! URL and do a search to find the location, and click that link
* Same as above, but using the popup of saved searches that some systems will provide
* Set either URL as the browser homepage so browser goes there automatically
* Put a URL in a bookmark/favorite
* Put a URL in the bookmarks bar (right below the address field)
* Drag the URL to the Desktop, to make a clickable item
... and I'm sure many more

Depending on the user's computer literacy, some of those are completely foreign. My other half is a Yahoo! Mail user and certainly wouldn't think to do the homepage or Desktop items. Creating a bookmark and especially using the bookmarks bar is something people often have to be shown before they will do it, and any of these users will tend to eternally use the first method they used to get to the site, even if they mentally know there must be "better" ways than something like the search engine path.

(Myself, I use the bookmarks bar for random access to my [non-Yahoo!] webmail, and I have a list of dialy visisted bookmarks which it is also in.)

So I'm not surprised by the directors' expectation -- that's what they would do and what any moderately skilled user would do, which is what they tend to think of as the target, even when it isn't the bulk of the user base -- nor am I surprised by the actual research finding. Depending on just what the app was, I'm a bit surprised by the absence of explicit "computer literacy" as part of the research. (Maybe it just wasn't called out in your summary.)

With Yahoo! Mail, my gut reaction is that there is a higher "casual" e-mail population for webmail than there is for POP and IMAP solutions, and a corresponding lower computer literacy. I would expect that the 70% figure for your other research would be higher with Yahoo!

-- Jim

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