Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Choices Explorer

A few readers have asked me what kind of projects I've been working on lately. The last project we finished was an overhaul of an online career-information service for kids called CX Online. The main goals of the overhaul were to simplify the interface to improve ease-of-use, increase the prominence of post-secondary-education content and give the visuals an update to make it more engaging. Since it's a subscription product, you'll have to register for a free trial to get access -- yes, that's a bit of a pain.

Schools mostly purchase it to help their guidance counsellors deliver career-planning programs to students, which might explain why I occasionally ramble about guidance programs and issues surrounding the tension between free and paid educational resources. I'm a supporter and beneficiary of open source and free information, but I have to acknowledge some hypocrisy on my part -- Bridges' subscription model has helped keep me employed in very interesting and rewarding work for four years now.

So why do people pay for it? Educators know they can find a lot of the information from all sorts of free sites, but thousands are still willing to pay to get it all in one place where they know the quality is good, the process doesn't require extra research or work for them, and the students are somewhat protected from the nastier side of the web. I'd appreciate any feedback on the product itself, or the business model behind it.

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