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Marissa Mayer, now CEO of Yahoo [former Google exec], has developed a reputation over the years of her career as someone who pays extremely close attention to detail and data.  Just how extreme is extreme?  During her time at Google, Mayer once had her team test 41 different shades of blue to determine which generated the optimal number of clicks.  But with some recent changes at Yahoo, I’m starting to wonder where all that attention to detail and data went?

Yes, Yahoo has improved a number of its apps, some of which people really like, such as the new Yahoo Weather app, but then there have been major changes that just haven’t gone very well at all.  The first being the new Yahoo logo.

The new Yahoo logo received a bunch of harsh criticism and rightfully so.  Assuming Mayer wasn’t kidding in her blog post where she announced the new logo, she and a small team of designers spent just a weekend putting it together.

“So, one weekend this summer, I rolled up my sleeves and dove into the trenches with our logo design team: Bob Stohrer, Marc DeBartolomeis, Russ Khaydarov, and our intern Max Ma. We spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday designing the logo from start to finish, and we had a ton of fun weighing every minute detail.”

So I have to ask myself, where’s the data? Where’s the 41 different color changes to see which purple works and looks best? Where’s the user feedback? Which logo speaks most loudly of the company’s new core values?  Where is the Marissa Mayer we know by reputation?  How could you weigh every minute detail in just two days?

Even people on Yahoo! Answers don’t like the new logo.

But it seems to be getting worse.

Six days into the refresh of Yahoo! Mail on the web, the company is receiving a great deal of negative user feedback and it’s not just little stuff people are complaining about. Apparently, Yahoo has removed — or misplaced — essential Yahoo Mail functions leaving users outraged that they can no longer organize their Inbox by Tabs or Sort by Sender, that they can’t view their Folders unless they leave the inbox, that new emails are no longer bold, and that the delete button is turning out to be unfortunately placed next to sender name.

Another widely repeated issue is the redesign’s missing in-action print button.  The missing print button is one of the few comments to receive a reply from Yahoo, saying, “We are looking into this issue” and that the user should use Command-P in the meantime.

Currently, the “bug” or “error” category currently has more than 4,400 entries, spanning over 200 pages.

Many users are also reporting broken functions that include autosave, draft deletion, use SSL, and more.  Some users are even saying that emails are being deleted or disappearing, while additional reports state that Yahoo is removing email addresses from user address books without consent.  In fact, in one documented instance, the user re-added the contact’s email address, only to have Yahoo go back into their address book and remove it again.

This new release shipped under Mayer and there is no way she wasn’t heavily involved in it.  Mayer is said to review every individual hire at Yahoo, there is just no way she wasn’t involved in the new Yahoo! Mail, especially since Mail is one of Yahoo’s biggest services.

So again, I ask, where is the attention to detail?  Where is the all the data?  Where is any of it?

It is entirely possible she’s spreading herself to thin, and maybe she needs to work on delegation skills, but whatever it is, she needs to resolve it.  Right now, her reputation of being extremely detail and data oriented just isn’t showing.  And while I know Yahoo just beat out Google in terms of web traffic, the company needs to focus on keeping those users coming back, and certainly blunders like Yahoo! Mail aren’t the way to do it.

So what do you think: is Marissa Mayer slipping in terms of attention to detail?


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