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Internet

Lycos plays hide-and-seek

The Web portal gives Netizens a peek at its home page but then quickly pulls it back into beta testing to fix a number of glitches.

Lycos today gave Netizens a peek at its home page but then quickly pulled it back into beta testing after the company discovered a number of glitches.

The new site is scheduled to launch tomorrow evening after the problems are fixed, according to Rajive Mathur, Lycos group product manager of navigation and search.

Lycos, which launched its beta page last week, will adopt a less graphic--or color-intensive--interface. It will also highlight more online shopping services and streamline its search results interface.

While the portal still organizes Web content and services into general "channels," the site's previous emphasis of content seems to have waned with the redesign.

Among the changes, the site's channel listings have been minimized into a smaller box that no longer dominates the page, and subheadings under each cannel have been removed.

Links to Lycos's e-commerce partners Barnes and Noble and CDnow are featured along the side bar of other links to various services and resources.

"We're giving a lot of other content and services more balance, as well as aiming for a fast and easy search results page," Mathur said.

Lycos's changes highlight the trend that many portals have adopted to strengthen other revenue outside of advertising. Electronic commerce has become a pivotal solution for many such sites.

Developing e-commerce also can attract exclusive partnerships where a company such as CDnow signs an agreement to become an exclusive music retailer on the site for a number of years and pays millions of dollars to do so.

America Online has pursued initiatives in the past to boost revenue separate from its subscription fees. The online giant consistently does multimillion-dollar exclusive deals with product companies, and its commerce revenues have skyrocketed.

The redesign follows last week's acquisition of Wired Digital for $83 million in stock. That deal will expand Lycos's audience and will enhance its strategy of becoming a network of autonomous Web sites.

In turn, the company can begin selling a wider package of advertising, as well as strike deals with other commerce partners.