CXO

Seeking training info? Try TrainSeek.com

Kevin Eikenberry checks out a site that offers sales, comparisons, and reviews of training products. Read on to see if TrainSeek.com comes through with its promise of one-stop shopping.


I got a postcard in the mail last week, with this simple mantra listed several times: “Find, Preview, Compare, and Buy Training.” When I went to the Web site listed on the card, I found the same slogan used as the navigation tool for the site. This is one of the few times I have looked at a site touted by a postcard, but it was worthwhile and it led to this review of TrainSeek.com .

TrainSeek is a player in the business-to-business space of the training industry. As a trainer or training manager, you might often be asked for product recommendations or to identify materials—a book, video, course, or online publication—for a new corporate initiative or to meet the needs of an existing team. If you have those needs, TrainSeek is a place to look. TrainSeek itself doesn’t produce training materials, so the company is setting itself up as an unbiased forum for reviewing and selecting training products and services.

Home page
From here you get a clear view of the site’s focus and content. The left column is designed for searching and browsing and remains on every page of the site. The four major features of the site are (can you guess?): find, preview, compare, and buy.

Find
This section is a Web standby: Create a big database and let people search it! The difference here is the effort the company has put into making this a comprehensive list. The page mentions three tools for searching:
  • QuickSearch, the standard search, is available on any page of the site.
  • SmartSearch, a targeted search engine that allows you to specify quite extensively what you’re looking for, goes beyond a keyword search.
  • QuickBrowse is a list of 20 general categories to review, a la Yahoo. (To give you an idea of the size of their database, clicking on the “Trainer Training/Learning Theory” category led to 772 titles in 19 sub-groupings.)

Additionally, there is a button called SearchAssist, which leads to a service where they will help you find what you need if you can’t find it in their vast array of products and services.

Preview
TrainSeek.com offers previews of many products via RealPlayer™. Currently, they list previews for 714 products, 646 of which are videos. When using the site, you would most likely do a search, and then view the preview if it is available. This is a nice feature.

Compare
This section was the most disappointing, as it explained how to review a resource, but didn’t take me to the comparisons themselves. The site uses a rating system based on a four-star system. One star is a "poor" rating and four stars is an "outstanding" rating. The promise of training professionals using this site and providing these rankings is quite exciting, and a great example of using the Web to build community.

Buy
The site uses standard shopping cart technology to manage your purchases, necessary for their business model and useful to the customer, making this truly a one-stop shopping experience.

Final impressions
The proof of a site like this is how it performs in everyday use. I simulated a need for resources in a specific subject area and was able to find workshops, videos, books, and much more. The products available on this site are impressive, the design is clean, and the layout leaves room for expansion.

This site is useful to me as a training professional today because there are lots of resources available. As the site matures, if they are able to truly build a community and add more “Compare” and “Preview” value to their “Find” and “Buy” promises, this will be a truly outstanding resource.
How useful do you find this site? Is there another place on the Web where you go to buy or investigate training products? Write to Kevin and let him know about those sites or any others you would like to see reviewed.
Figure Ashows the summary of my review.

Figure A
Here’s Kevin’s summary of his review of TrainSeek.com.

Kevin Eikenberry is president of the Discian Group, a learning consulting company in Indianapolis.

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