Found this interview today with Jeff Bonforte, a Yahoo VP. He talks a lot about usability of web applications and claims a focus on usability is the reason Yahoo messenger and email is more popular than Google’s services. I would have been more impressed if he had also mentioned that a large part of those numbers might be related to Yahoo’s email and chat being around for quite a few years before Google got into those markets.
He has an interesting quote in the article though:
On Yahoo! Messenger for the Mac client, I reduced the functionality by 30 per cent and increased usage by 35 per cent. As we take out features, it tends to do better with the mainstream users.
Apart from being an interesting quote in terms of the eternal discussion about GNOME usability it did strike me that being an online application maker has some great advantages, like being able to measure exactly how each change you do influence usage patterns and popularity.