Free or affordable education is readily available for anyone who wants to build a website. It’s been this way since the Internet began delivering websites. Yet, if the instruction manuals are only a click away, why do we continue to see new websites that look ridiculous?

Desperation makes some people do unethical things like stealing content, brandnames, images and source code. Just as stealing from retail stores raises the costs for all of us, so too does the practice of ripping off someone else’s websites for your own personal gain.

I hate seeing something as genuine as a blog, whose one-time mission was self-expression from the heart, be degraded into a garbage pile of link bait schemes. I understand the motivation to rank and be found in search engines. But, the things that I value are honesty and integrity.

These two elements are hard to find on the Internet. For every purposefully designed and thought out website, there are 100 whose sole purpose is a quick revenue fix or support for ranking schemes.

I favor a good work ethic. If only search engines could tell the difference between a website where the owner worked hard to build it, and the one whose owner is too lazy to care about who finds it and tries to use it.

Cre8asiteforums’ Website Hospital is one of many web design oriented forums that offers website feedback. At Cre8asite, even Internet applications can be tested, at no charge. While this option is informal, it is also free. More importantly, people offer advice and even provide code, if needed, in these forums.

I’ve noticed that a website help request will garner more responses when the owner talks about the site, asks specific questions on where help is hoped for, and the site itself looks as though it has a strong purpose.

It’s not hard to tell the difference between a link drop and a genuine request for help, and yet I’m always amazed at how many people drop a link anyway. Sometimes the feedback they receive is negative. These posts are found in search engines. Where is the logic in purposely baiting negative site promotions?

SEO and User Centered Design

There’s, of course, the long running debate over which is more “important” – marketing a site in search engines or developing a site that people can use. Experienced professionals, having been around the block a few times, understand there is no debate. The two are equal priorities and they often seamlessly blend together .

I think that it comes down to a choice.

Website intentions are transparent on an Internet where millions of people, from around the globe, have access to your website. It takes only a few brief seconds to understand whether or not a website is worthy of their time.

People who use the Internet are patient people, often willing to put up with a lot of nonsense and confusion when they know there’s a real carrot to be found.

Indeed, they are much smarter these days. They can tell the difference between site owners that really care about their customers and visitors and those that don’t (or haven’t learned how to communicate this).

Ready to Invest a Bit of Time?

Here are some new finds and some old ones that you may have missed.

1. Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP: A Developer’s Guide to SEO. Pre-orders being taken by Amazon. Read more about it here.

2. SEM SEO Certification Blog, by David Temple. Education about the education.

3. The SEO Intern Training Programme offered by Fresh Egg requires that you get to the UK for the training. There are two ways to learn and interns learn from esteemed practitioners from the industry.

4. The Search Engine College is expanding and growing. In addition to search engine optimization and marketing courses, they offer a website usability self-study course that’s loaded with practical information and extremely affordable.

5. There are contests offered by companies worth keeping an eye out for. They may be free to join and the return is in the form of hands on learning opportunties. An excellent example is Marketing Pilgrim’s SEM Scholarship

6. Students may want to check into the Blogging Scholarship offered by Scholarships Around the US. It’s worth $5000.

7. Self-teaching options for website usability are available for anyone wanting immediate, actionable help such as How To Quench Your Website Visitors’ Thirst, 23 pages of information, checklists, tips, pointers, and resources to help you increase traffic, sales, subscriptions, and return visits or Ring Bell For Service, 80 Checkpoints to Improve Web Site Traffic, Sales and Usability.

8. If you don’t know what’s ailing your website, try website reviews that range from $1075 for in-depth help to $185 for a quick checkup of smaller websites.

9. Free Quick Kick-Start Guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

10. Free Web Design From Scratch tutorials.

How many industries make it so easy and affordable to learn the tricks of the trade?

Update November 1, 2006. Thank you for making this blog post the first of mine that has ever gone past 2 Diggs.

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cre8pc

Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101

Member:

American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)