Yahoo plans to roll out a beta version of an overhauled home page in the US today, the next step in what's expected to be the biggest redesign of the site since its inception.

The revamped home page will let web surfers add a personal touch to their Yahoo home pages with a new pane on the left-hand side of the page allowing them to add customised links to their favourite online destinations.

There are expected to be 65 pre-approved web applications on the list to start with - including Facebook, Twitter and eBay - but users will be able to add more. Yahoo hopes that software developers will embrace the new layout by writing sophisticated applications that are designed specifically to sit on people's portal.

Yahoo's home page receives huge amounts of traffic, but the company has been losing ground to Google as both a portal and a search engine. Google's iGoogle has been growing in popularity in recent years, while its search engine has led the market for years.

As well as the home page revamp, Yahoo is working on improving its search technology and recently showed a slightly different page layout for displaying search results. Search results for the name of a restaurant lead off with a map showing its location, followed by links to an aggregated selection of reviews, photos and directions. Yahoo is revamping its image search in a similar way.

Moving away from the 'blue links' is something all the main search companies have been exploring. Even Google, which dominates web search and has the least to gain from disrupting the status quo, has been blending news, video and other content with its results.