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Yahoo! gets Marissa Mayer make-over

Yahoo! sported a new look on Wednesday in a make-over tailored by style savvy and engineering smart chief Marissa Mayer.

Web pages long cluttered with low-brow ads were redesigned to highlight news of interest to visitors along with feeds of what is getting attention online.

"Designed to be more intuitive and personal, the new Yahoo! experience is all about your interests and preferences," Mayer said in a blog post.

"Yahoo! has always been about bringing you the very best of the web. And, today, we're introducing a new, more modern experience to do just that."

Mayer took over in July at Yahoo! after 13 years at Google, having been hired as the 20th employee and first woman engineer at the company that went on to be the new king of Internet search.

Shortly after taking over at Yahoo!, Mayer expressed a vision to "make the world's daily habits inspiring and entertaining."

Mayer joined Yahoo! as the fifth chief executive there in as many years as the struggling Internet search pioneer tried to reinvent itself as a "premier digital media" company after withering in Google's shadow.

Mayer has echoed the mantra of predecessors who maintained that the company could find prosperity by mining information about users to insightfully tailor online content and target money-making advertising.

Yahoo! in 2009 began letting Bing handle the labor-intensive job of finding and indexing content on the Internet, freeing itself to concentrate on interesting or personalized ways to present results.

The re-designed Yahoo! pages rolled out in the United States on Wednesday were a step along the path directed by Mayer.

"Whether you are a sports fanatic or entertainment buff, you can easily customize your newsfeed to your interests," Mayer said.

Yahoo! websites have also been optimized for access from smartphones or tablet computers, according to Mayer, who added that online services have been made faster with "under-the-hood improvements."

Technology news website GigaOm said that the Yahoo! revamp inspired a "bunch of somewhat lukewarm reviews" and boasts of adding kinds of news feeds that have been hits for years at Facebook and Twitter.

"There's been a rush of optimism about Yahoo lately, thanks in large part to its new CEO, much-admired former Google executive Marissa Mayer," GigaOm's Mathew Ingram said at the website.

"The reality is that Yahoo's latest attempt to reinvent the old 'portal' approach to the web might have made sense five years ago, but it is both too little and too late."

Wall Street appeared unimpressed by the home page overhaul and Yahoo! shares were down about a percent to $21.06 in late trading on the Nasdaq exchange.

Industry analyst Jeff Kagan faulted California-based Yahoo! for quietly rolling out the re-design instead of making a spectacle of the change.

"This reinvention of the Yahoo home page is the biggest step yet for Marissa Mayer as CEO to reinvent the company," Kagan said.

"What I really don't understand is why this announcement is so understated," he continued. "Maybe they are just laying the groundwork for the new Yahoo. If so they are missing an incredible opportunity."