I noticed that my old company, Idearc Media, just launched a major new redesign today for their primary web property, Superpages.com :
Read on for a few of my comments about it.
Some of my teams worked really heavily on the transition to the new design, and I’m really impressed by their work!
I’m also very, very pleased with the changes introduced by the redesign, which I think are pretty effective. The new design introduces more local content directly onto the site’s homepage. Top-rated local businesses are displayed, local WiFi hotspots, and local weather, for instance.
While I was at Superpages, I used to be a big proponent of the various types of city/locality content like this. The City Pages section used to be under my purview – and I’d actually introduced contextual links on the homepage associated with users’ cities a few years ago (Attractions, Events, & Weather), though it was done in a much less visible way, and those contextual integrations got subsumed under some other subsequent redesign. The weather data they’re currently using also came out of one of my pet R&D projects wherein we built our own in-house weather data presentation system, based off of a number of government data sources.
This new design also introduces silhouettes of the skylines of major cities on the homepage as pretty treatment to lend feeling to the “we know local” nature of the site.
In order to view the local info and silhouettes on the homepage, you have to have used the site at some point in the past so that the system can remember your last-searched-locality. Then, when you return to the homepage the next time, it’ll display content from that location. Logging into the personalization isn’t required for the treatment. To see how it works, perform a search for “Restaurants” or something in “Seattle, WA” – a city which has a particularly cool and identifiable skyline silhouette.
Additional redesign elements include a completely revamped Listings page. The page now sports a default map image of the results for a business search, and a much “cleaner” look-and-feel to the layout. There’s also a big paradigm shift that’s happened in these results pages — previously, the All Listings section of the page (below the Sponsored Results) was listed by default in alphabetical order. These results are now displayed in proximity order — in order of businesses closest to the location specified by the searcher.
This paradigm shift shows the next evolutionary level of yellow pages, making the listings content much closer in similarity to the “local search” results presentation introduced by major search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.
While you can say that Superpages is imitating the major search engines, there’s a real chicken-and-egg thing at play with that, because Superpages was the first major site to come out with the map-o-centric “local search” results, years and years back. I know, because I was in charge of the project on the tech side of the house. We called that “Map-Based Search”, and it was clear that Google and Yahoo both imitated that interface when they first deployed their “local search” interfaces. So, who’s imitating who is more than a bit blurry at this point.
Most industry wags and industry observers would tell you that “yellow pages” and “local search” are evolving, and they’ll likely ultimately end up meeting somewhere in the middle. I’d say that this change brings Superpages up to being one of the sites that’s closest to the ideal middle-ground of any site out there. And, it certainly places Superpages another step above the other IYPs out there.
Of course, I’m arguably a little bit biased as a former long-time employee (and still a current stockholder), so you’ll need to decide for yourself!