August 2001

GOOD USER INTERFACE DESIGN requires human insight and a lot of imagination as well as graphic design skills. Constructing stereotypical but specific customers to give focus and direction to the design process can be enormously useful. For example, when building a travel site, you might invent a person called Susan who is a soccer mom and is planning a family summer trip to Washington State. Then when your CTO suggests a nifty feature for the site, you ask, "Would this help Susan?" Alan Cooper explains this process in detail and with humor in his book "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore The Sanity," or you can learn more at www.cooper.com/newsletters.... OMIX is a partner with Cooper Interaction Design, a top tier user interface design company.

CONSUMER TRAVEL IS FLYING despite the slow-down ($13.2 billion/yr spent online/Forrester). Travel Web stocks are up and several companies are even in the black. However, some of the big sites are having problems covering advertising costs that are running at 50% of revenue (WSJ 8/14/01). Interesting small hotels can be found at PlacestoStay.com, which is the public site of WorldRes.com, the B2B portal that connects small hotels with big travel sites. Cheap tickets can be found at Hotwire.com, which is similar to priceline.com, but with a chance to approve a purchase. With our auction technology, OMIX can support ticket and hotel room discounting as a way to attract travel consumers and keep seats and rooms full.

PLAY WITH OMIX PORTAL PROTOTYPE at http://oracle.omix.com:7771/, developed for portal projects. (Login as guest, password guest, and only 4 logins at a time). Corporate portals are popular to give employees a primary page where they can find personalized corporate information. Like most portals, this prototype allows users to configure it and allows non-programmers to add new features. Our prototype also has file management, names list, bulletin board, to do lists and access control. Feedback welcome! Send to gude@omix.com.

SEARCH ENGINES BECOME MARKETING ENGINES as Web companies strive to attract new, paying customers. OMIX's search engine placement service (about $2K to $3K) usually pays for itself quickly as new customers find your site for the first time. Monthly maintenance keeps your search engine placement working effectively (~$300/month). A more expensive alternative is the pay-per-click arrangement that search engine companies offer, where the more you pay, the better your placement on their list of search results. See GoTo.com to find out what some companies are paying for each click-through that GoTo.com provides. (Search a topic like "travel"). Most search engines operate this way, but GoTo.com shows you the specific costs associated with this approach.

A WIRELESS ROAD MAP is still developing, but it looks like the US is still almost 2 years behind Europe and Asia. The browsers on this generation of phones have not taken off in the US, and probably work best here with dedicated enterprise applications. The new technology is looking very interesting, though. Nationally, there will be a new standard called Enhanced 911, which mandates that new phones will supply your position down to about 200 feet of resolution starting late 2001. This will open up many location-based services, as well as provide very interesting (hopefully anonymous) traffic data. GPRS is a new service now being tested in Seattle that provides continuous Internet connections at modem-like speeds on cell phones such as the Nokia 9290 that are about the size of a traditional cell phone, but open up to expose a palm device (small keyboard and wide color screen, perfect for browsing and running J2ME applications).

NEED OMIX SERVICES BUT STRAPPED FOR CASH? Lease an OMIX project for about 3.5% to 5% of the total cost/month (3 years/$1 buyout). See SoftwareFunding.com or call Adrian Brindis 800-452-1845 x216.

FOR QUESTIONS, REMOVALS, OR TO RECEIVE OMIX NEWS contact Kyle Hurlbut at 650-330-8980/kyle@OMIX.com, Frank Poliat at 650-330-8957/frank@OMIX.com or Jim Chabrier at 650-330-8960/jimc@omix.com