AT&T Interactive has launched a substantial redesign of its YP.com online directory with the aim of making the site an easier and more compelling user experience, with a clear theme around supporting consumer lifestyles (hence its structure of Eat, Play, Live). AT&T is touting several features of the new design, which they say has been vetted extensively in consumer testing. These include:
— The ability to set and change the user location easily.
— A design that allows different types of search — quick find, browse and compare, and discover things you weren’t aware you were looking for.
— A structure built around three broad categories — Eat (restaurants, gourmet shops), Play (golf courses, local events) and Live (veterinarians and carpet cleaners).
— A visually engaging approach, that incorporates vivid images, breezy copy and content feeds (including news and weather feeds from fwix) to promote the discovery aspect of the search experience.
We had a chance to chat with Greg Issacs, VP of YP.com, who walked us through the thinking behind the new site. Issacs said the site is an evolving process, with new features to be added every two weeks, bringing in more content, social elements and so on. Prior to the redesign, AT&T rolled out vertical integrations in events (Zvents), restaurants (OpenTable) and travel (hotels.com). These elements are featured prominently on the new site, and Issacs says others are in store.
Find and browse have long been part of Yellow Pages. “Discover” has not. A big part of the rationale for the new site is to cross that threshold of engagement, where consumers turn to a site more frequently because it offers more than just a utilitarian function like finding a local plumber whenever you happen to need one. Last month, my colleague Matt Booth wrote a paper that outlined just how stubborn and consistent frequency metrics are. Citing comscore data, we found that the major IYPs all have similar figures for average minutes per visit (range is generally 1.5 to 3 minutes) and visits per month (range is from 1 to 2 visits). Breaking out of these ranges has proven very challenging.
Issacs asserts that for YP.com to reach the next level, it will have to overcome this hurdle. “To be successful, a site needs all three legs of the stool.” He says AT&T will judge the new sites success in a variety of ways. Some of the KPIs they’ll use are the number of new users they attract each month, and how often these users return — that critical frequency metric. He told us that AT&T would consider it a win if YP.com can increase these metrics by two or three times.
AT&T will ignite a wide ranging promotional campaign this month (including traditional, digital and social media) to promote the new site and the new YP.com brand (no more Yellowpages.com).