Yelp is rolling out a new homepage over the “next few weeks.” The company says the changes were motivated by discussions with “hardcore Yelpers” plus observation and research about how the homepage was being used. The new design is much more “social” and features an activity update stream from your network (assuming you’re signed in).
It’s not immediately clear what the new homepage will look like if you haven’t created an account or aren’t signed in. Below is what the current Yelp homepage looks like. Most of the “above the fold” real estate is occupied by “best of” lists and categories. The search box, which is probably the most used feature of the site, resides at the top of the page (not pictured).
In the new version of Yelp.com the “best of” box and business category links are merged and pushed to the bottom of the page, below the fold.
Below the fold:
To most Yelp users this redesign may not matter that much. On the PC people often come to Yelp business profile pages or search results pages via Google and SEO. People that do navigate to the homepage typically just use the search box to get to the category or business they’re interested in.
This homepage redesign is part of a larger initiative, however, which includes the redesign of Yelp’s iOS apps and mobile site. Interestingly, the mobile website offers a “signed in” option. Along those lines, the new PC homepage will encourage people to register and use Yelp signed in to get Facebook- and Twitter-like network status updates. The top of the page also solicits users to write their “next review,” in a bid to stay ahead of Google in the local content chase.
Yelp has always been a social network of sorts for heavy users. For more casual users Yelp is more like “yellow pages 2.0.” However the new homepage emphasizes the social dimension of the site and makes a bid for higher engagement and more interaction. It’s a subtle but potentially important “cultural” shift.
Update: Here’s a screenshot (provided by Yelp) of the new homepage in signed-out mode. This is certainly better and more streamlined than what exists currently.