There was a line once from a TV commercial that went, “If you want to capture someone’s attention, whisper.” Such a method may not work on the Internet.

Save Forums

I was curious to find where the new generation of search engine marketers and website designers are these days. I also wanted to know if the talented and skilled among the new folks were helping out the industry by passing along accurate information. I asked because this was how we used to do things. Chat groups, usenet, forums and email lists were how I learned and where I gave back. It was fun meeting meeting people and watching them build their brand and businesses.

A large number of people from the first generation of search engine promotion days remain out in force. These are the folks who were there when new search engines and directories were being launched so often we needed charts and diagrams to keep up with them. Each one had its own algorithm or human editors. They started out free. Today, there are 3 mainstream search engines that need very little help finding web pages and directories exist for any goal or niche. Sadly, some people continue to charge unsuspecting companies to submit sites to fee-based directories that have nothing to do with their product or service.

Where would a site owner go to get accurate, practical, authentic information on web site marketing? Who do they turn to? Who has their best interests in mind? And more important to me, does the thrust of the credible education still come from the pioneers and GenTwo? If the tradition of mentoring and freely sharing advice is continuing, where is it being done?

Picture of teacher at drawing board.

The answers are all over the place. One takeaway was learning that forums such as the one I own are dying out due to the incredible impact of spam and lack of quality advice. In addition, the medium itself is considered too old. Today’s web site generation rely on social networking sites and blogs for their education and interaction.

Another takeaway lies in the business model. Free advice may not be considered quality advice. Anyone can write a blog post and submit it somewhere. There is less attention to good writing, backing up statements with facts, resources or studies. Sphinn took a dive because the content submitted was either poorly written or intended only to promote a business, service or person. They’re working hard over there to turn that all around.

Many blogs are produced as part of a business. For that model, the content must be quality and correct because the reputation of the business depends on it. Paid bloggers and sites that pay for their content may attract more traffic than a forums where you’re never sure if you’re getting the right kind of information. Subscription-based forums have the incentive to provide professional content too.

“We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.” Dakota saying.

Should any industry be responsible for passing along the baton to future generations? Some people don’t think it matters. Others have experienced what happens when the education is corrupted. For example, the story I was told about someone in a high paying IT position whose company downsized and let go of most of its employees, only to start replacing some of them with cheaper labor. Assigned to work on a project with one such new employee, it was soon obvious the new person was in trouble. When asked where he learned his skills he replied, “I learned from Google.”

Forums or Blogs?

However without a steady influx of new members a forum will stagnate and die.

Some people say a forums should adapt with the times by getting on Twitter, Facebook, getting a blog, starting a Linkedin Group. Cre8asiteforums has already done this, with the exception of being on Facebook. None of that increased traffic.

We weed out the spam and because of the industry well-knowns, who are either moderators or regular contributors, the content is more likely to be accurate.

But that hasn’t attracted a steady stream of new members. With today’s forums and the volume of information inside them, someone can join and learn but never participate. They don’t give back to the community or even let the community know they exist at all.

That’s the part that has changed from the old days. There are new places and new ways to make an impression on the Internet.

Web Design That Makes an Impact

Unless a web design relies on Flash and is packed with vivid images, we as web users find most sites to be boring to look at. What separates the truly talented web designer from the template driven or less experienced ones are those who want to make a human connection with each web site visitor. I’ve seen online forms that make me feel as though someone is standing next to me with words of encouragement and even humor.

Human computer interaction is one of my passions. I write it about it for SearchEngineLand. Today, Information Behavior and Mental Models was published.

How often do you have a happy, fun, relaxing and utterly satisfying experience while browsing an online retail web site? Do web site designers know or even care what puts us in the zone? What does it feel like to be a captivated web user?

I hope the article inspires you.

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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)