We did some checking on Linux Island a couple of months ago when the Linuxgruven deal was going down. The SAIR rep we talked to was completely positive about LinuxIsland's good standing as an Accredited Center of Education (ACE). Anyone who visits the Linux Island Web site might come away with a different impression.Remember the Web back in the mid '90's? No one expected much then, and all you had to know was a few HTML tags to get by. Animated GIFs were state-of-the-art technology. This site looks like a throwback to those days. That's not necessarily a bad thing, except 1) this is a business, 2) this is a tech business, 3) this is a tech business with a huge prejudice to overcome.
In case you're not familiar with the whole she-bang, Linux Island arose from the ashes of training company Linuxgruven's crash and burn; the company is headed up by a former Linuxgruven instructor. For many who had their wings scorched by the shenanigans of Hibbits and Lebb (the duo who ran Linuxgruven and by most accounts didn't deliver on promises made), the business strategy is way too close to Linuxgruven's: Place ads looking for inexperienced IT workers who want to make $45,000 a year; get them to take (and pay for) the training and certification; and send those workers out on a contract basis to companies who want to set up their intranets on Linux servers.
Starting out with that strike against it, and having had to field many, many questions and accusations already, common sense would seem to cry out for a professional-looking Web site (among other things). And by professional we don't mean crazy flash-splash pages or misty-edged jpegs of satisfied business people. No, all we ask for is clean, simple layout and clear navigation.
What we found frightened us:
A bright royal blue background with a big, cheesy setting sun and a silhouetted penguin floating in the center of it, with its wings spread as though it were trying to fly up and snag a coconut off the equally cheesy silhouetted palm tree that does double-duty as the "L" in Linux Island. This logo looks amateurish at best -- like something pieced together from Microsoft Office clip art. An animated "under construction" GIF would be perfect on this page.
Linux Island could redeem itself by providing well-crafted and useful content -- but sadly it doesn't. A look at the "What Is Linux?" page turned up text rife with grammatical and punctuation errors; while mistakes can and do happen to the best of us, a company that concerns itself with education should take time to make sure that its content is correct. The "Our Education Island" page didn't make us any happier. There's a big, silly graphic right in the middle of the page, and no usable content. Same for "Our Service Island," and "Our Support Island." If we were looking for Linux IT management, support, OR education, we'd turn tail and run in the opposite direction after looking at this.
And that's sad, not only for Linux Island, but for Linux as a whole. We need to be able to show a good face to a world that is used to the slickness of Microsoft. We don't want to give Redmond any ideas, but they could use the Linux Island site as an advertisement for their cause.