Yahoo has a new homepage, but you’d be forgiven for not noticing, since fewer people than ever are visiting it. In December 2012, for example, traffic to the domain Yahoo.com was down 24% from a year ago.
Like other titans of another tech age, Yahoo is facing an existential threat against which it may be defenseless: People just don’t surf the web the way they used to. It is now the rule, rather than the exception, to share links over Facebook, Twitter and “dark social“ (e.g., email or text messages), which means that most people are arriving on pages buried deep within websites, and may never go near the homepage.
This is especially true of outlets like Yahoo, which is nominally a search engine but keeps users clicking with copious amounts of news and other media. As journalist Ann Friedman noted in an essay on the end of the homepage,
Less than half of visits to nytimes.com start on the homepage. More than half of Buzzfeed’s visitors come from search and social. And a mere 12 percent of visits to The Atlantic start with the homepage.
Of course, we may be a little biased: This is part of the strategy behind Quartz itself, where, depending on how you look at it, either there is no homepage, or every article is a homepage.