Yahoo pipes is as easy to use as any other type of drag-n-drop style application. It's also no more complicated than WordPress for example. You can use it out of the box, or you can customise, or even build your own template. The same goes for Y! Pipes. You can use a pipe out of the box, customise or modify an existing one or simply start from scratch and make your own mean machine.
Back-up a bit….what is it?
"Pipes is a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web." A series of different commands are linked together so that output can be filtered, customised, manipulated even more. It uses RSS feeds as input, so all you really need is to know the URI but if you don't it's ok, it can also auto-discover. You can channel all of your chosen feeds into one, and then you can sort it however you see fit. You can geocode your feeds and then browse them using an interactive map. You could use a series of feeds that you have filtered and merged to power another application. You can build custom vertical search pages, build widgets and badges, turn the output of feeds into any other format…the possibilities are endless.
How do I use it them?
First of all you'll need a Yahoo account. Once you have one of those go through to pipes. You'll see a pretty interface with a nice grid canvas in the center and a host of little tabs on the left. There will be a "Pipe output" tab already on the canvas. You basically drag and drop the tools you want onto the canvas, set the parameters and then link one to the other. Lifehacker has a great first pipe for you to try out. It's a matter of trial and error at first but they are a lot of fun.
Oh yes, I forgot, they are useful as well. You can use them for all sorts of things that will make your life a lot easier. Here is a list of those that I think are great for the SEO/SMM enthusiasts and experts out there:
Here is a nice little presentation by Dr Corinne Weisgerber on "…how to build a basic Yahoo Pipe that monitors online conversations on several social media sites".