Online Invitations – Broken or Just Stale? (Evite, Renkoo, and Skobee)
A few days ago I was remarking to a friend about how many stale web interfaces are finally getting a much-needed refresh — calendars, email, directories, finance websites, and search results pages were the ones that immediately came to mind. In our discussion, there were two web properties that we both agreed had not really changed very much. Interestingly, they both happen to be IAC web properties:
You could argue that Evite has refreshed itself and has added some new basic functionality to make it easier to actually plan an event. Personally, I don’t find these new features very useful. I would argue that the last two useful features they added were a) the ability to consolidate multiple email addresses under one account and b) more attractive looking event templates. Other than that, the service feels to me very much like it did when I first started using it many years ago.
With that in mind, I started thinking about what I would do to improve Evite. I have a few thoughts. At the end of the day, my question is whether this product is stale or broken. It is a lot easier to topple a broken product than it is to topple a stale one.
How I would fix Evite
-Photo integration: They only support Shutterfly. How hard would it be to support other services? I can’t believe I am the only user who wants this type of functionality.
-Add/Support basic social networking info: Once upon a time I remember a function that would show you the people who were most frequently invited to the same events as you. That was actually pretty useful. I no longer can find that function if they still have it. Lots of people manage their social interactions other places these days (MySpace, Facebook, YFSN, etc) — why not provide some basic ability to utilize address books from those services?
-Add support for user-generated or professional reviews: Um, one of the most important decisions when hosting a party or social event is where to have it. Evite kind of leaves you hanging here. There are certainly opportunities for someone to improve the state of the art here.
Overall, my verdict is that the current Evite product is just stale. And why shouldn’t it be? What competitive pressure has there been to improve the state of the art in online invitations and event planning? Not much, to my knowledge. But in the same way that Flickr and a few other products have upset stale products by integrating more interesting functionality, I think that a newcomer in this space could offer consumers a much better experience.
I have not had the opportunity to test Renkoo or Skobee. I bet that they both have cool features and hope they will release something interesting in this space. The challenge, however, will be that the Evite product is not fundamentally broken — it gets the job done for simply planning an event and getting the word out. People are familiar with the basic functionality and user interface. I am not sure that there will be a large groundswell to move from Evite to something new, but I hope that something releases soon to re-energize this space.