BOSTON–This week’s Seybold Boston conference has been the launch pad for a tidal wave of dot-com companies. Aimed at print and web publishers, these online businesses are selling everything from products to expertise to collaboration services. At least two companies are vying to become the design professional’s one-stop information resource. These vertical portals, as they call them, (recently shortened — heaven help us — to ‘vortals’) are Web sites that accumulate information, products and services of interest to a specific high-end community.
Creativepro.com, launched last fall, was the first portal aimed specifically at designers. (Creativepro.com recently announced a business partnership with Mac Publishing LLC, Macworld’s parent company.) But now there’s a new entrant, DesignOnline.com, appearing February 14. DesignOnline.com is the creation of Visual Communications Group (VCG), a stock photography company. The company was not officially part of the Seybold convention-hall hoopla, but offered glimpses of their new Web site to the press in a nearby hotel suite.
Visitors of Design Online can purchase products such as design-related books, buy fonts and search through VCG’s massive stock of both royalty free and rights-protected photographs. The site offers tools such as a Pantone Color Finder, free email and personal calendars. Users who are looking for advice or simply want to connect with other members of the design community can join online forums (actually hosted on other sites), look for upcoming conferences, or search for educational resources.
Users of DesignOnline.com can also read columns and news stories relevant to design professionals. In addition to a small online editorial staff, much of the news is licensed from other content providers such as wire services. Design Online has already announced partnerships with Agfa, Quark and FPG International and is currently developing relationships with companies such as Flax Art & Design, How Magazine and Lynda.com.