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Wednesday Mar 1st 2000 by SmallBusinessComputing Staff
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ONVIA.COM

by David G. Propson

As with many small-business Web sites, there's less to Onvia than meets the eye. It offers business services, products, news, and advice, but can be inconvenient and even confusing.

Links to all Onvia has to offer are packed into the front page, so everything's easy to get to. The "My Business" feature lets you customize Onvia, in exchange for a minimum amount of personal information. And the Onvia's breaking news page may be the single best place on the Web to go for small-business specific updates.

Unfortunately, the closer you look at Onvia, the less impressive it becomes ­ especially those "services." Follow one of these links from the front page, and you'll be asked a series of questions about your business. Onvia then distributes that information to its network of service providers, who offer quotes for their services. But who exactly are these companies? How much information do they get? When will you hear back?

Onvia could improve by providing more information, and adding Web-based services people can use right away. Being an online Yenta for offline companies is fine, but Onvia could be doing a lot more.

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