Yellow Pages looks to the future

Directory aims to be the ultimate link between searchers and their shopping needs

Yellow Pages is as perennial as the grass, it seems, and when Telecom launched its online version in 1997 it was lauded as being an important step forward for the brand.

However, little has been done to enhance the brand or, more importantly, the site itself since then and it has become increasingly difficult for users to find the things they are looking for.

Last month saw the relaunch of the site with a new emphasis, not surprisingly, on searchability.

It also has a new vision: to make Yellow Pages into a “one-stop shop” for all search needs, says Dudley Enoka, general manager of Yellow Pages.

“We’ve worked with our key provider, EDS, to update the system, which is built on Unix,” he says. Content is delivered by Vignette, with the back-end database running on Oracle, he says.

The revamp has been driven by the results of an intensive and ongoing survey of users which found that a whopping 40% of users “don’t find their desired search results or have a bad experience” using Yellow Pages online.

The main reasons given were poor site design; outdated search technology and issues surrounding data entry — things like keyword searches coming up with too broad a range of results.

“So, we’ve taken that on board and re-arranged the look of the site to make it easier for people to search, as well as refining the search capability,” Enoka says.

While the design of the site has been refined in the Google style of “simple is best”, the service now delivers smarter results and should allow users to drill down within results, narrowing the final list by region, for example.

As to the future, the next 12 months will see a series of upgrades that should extend the reach of Yellow Pages further.

“We’re also looking at maps, obviously, because that’s a vital part of the service we should be offering.”

Eventually, Yellow Pages should be the ultimate link between shopper and vendor, Enoka says.

“We’re looking at this being the first step on the road to a significant enhancement.” The new-look Yellow Pages will allow users to click straight through to websites they find and, potentially, even extend into e-commerce itself.

“We’d look at live links between the search results and suppliers, so customers can find who they’re looking and then buy the product they want.”

The Yellow Pages website is one of New Zealand’s most popular, with over half a million visitors each month. Yet, for all that, it won’t replace the paper-based version entirely.

“For some searches you go online and for others you just reach for the book. You use the tool that’s appropriate for the job at hand.”

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