If the internet sprawls like no other business centre in the world, then those who can provide roadmaps to the metropolis will become power-players in their own right. Such web portals usually command huge traffic and ad revenues. Thus, Yellow Pages has launched Yell (www.yell.co.uk), a cleanly designed service that is, in effect, a United Kingdom portal site struggling to emerge from an old phone book.
Yell is built around the Yellow Pages' 1.6 million address listings for UK companies. Unfortunately, the clunky structure of its bound-paper predecessor casts its shadow online: just as they would do offline, users are permitted to navigate the listings for a given locality by choosing either a topic or a company name, rather than letting them use both criteria simultaneously to expedite the search.
On top of the phone book, Yell has added an index of 20,000 UK web sites, sensibly organised and pithily described; and lets partners provide a trove of co-branded information and commerce services regarding Travel, Property, Shopping, Business data, and other 'classic' portal content categories.
Beyond its staid directory, one wishes only that Yell also provided a true search engine, which could peer inside web sites to x-ray their contents and turn up results on topics that Yellow Pages never dreamt nor dared to index.