A better party planner
March 12, 2007
I’ve been dissatisfied for quite a while with Evite. Its look is cluttered by ads, and it seems that every other page is a big advertisement for other Evite services. Plus, how it interacts with the user is so 1990′s. There are no cool AJAX, JAVA, or Flash features (which many newer web services use nowadays, involving cool graphics, being able to make changes on the same page, auto-updating of new information, etc.). But I like the fact that party guests don’t have to sign up to use Evite — instead, they only need to click on the link given in party invitation emails to view and respond to the invitation. However, I wanted something better than Evite.
And then I discovered MyPunchBowl. It has a clean interface, signing up is easy (and actually not necessary for guests), and its pages look crisp and tidy. MyPunchBowl is full of cool AJAX gimmicks like being able to edit comments or details inside the page without having to view a new page each time. The webpage with invitation details can be somewhat customized by adding a photo or changing the background color. The user can also customize what is being said inside invitation emails before sending them to guests.
Other MyPunchBowl features include finding party stores near you, and the post-party pooling / sharing of photos. I especially like the photo-sharing feature — how often have we told each other, “Oh, I’ll send you this photo!” during the party — and never followed up? MyPunchBowl (via Plaxo) also allows you to import your address book from several possible sources, including Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, Plaxo, or your Outlook program. I’m not too crazy about allowing other web services access to your address book. However, if you have a LOT of people to invite, this could be useful. In addition, MyPunchBowl gives you the option of displaying your guest list or not to other people.
The only downside I can think of is that MyPunchBowl does not have as many features as Evite, like adding background images or asking for the number of people the guest plans to bring. (I especially like Evite’s “how many are you bringing” feature, and will sorely miss that one.) MyPunchBowl is still new, though — it was launched just several months ago — and so I expect more features to be added over time.
There’re a few more party-planning choices: Renkoo and Skobee. (Socializr is still in private testing, and I haven’t been able to test it out yet. If you know of more sites, leave a comment and I’ll check it out.) Both Renkoo and Skobee seem to be more targeted toward the “let’s hang out crowd,” and I didn’t find their event-planning features to be as easy or intuitive as MyPunchBowl. [Update 3/21/07: someone in the comments referred to a GigaOM blog post saying that Skobee's on its way out. Let's wait and see what happens with this one.]
[Update 3/14/07: thanks to comments, I've also checked out Triphub and Planyp.us. TripHub is geared toward planning a trip together, and I like how it looks. I'm going to use it for an upcoming beach vacation! Planyp.us looks cool, and I like its features -- especially the "how many additional guests" that people are / can bring. Its name is dang hard to spell, though -- if you use it, better bookmark it! It's geared toward planning parties together -- which is good for "parties by committee" (i.e., bridal showers!). I'm honored that people high up in Triphub and Planyp.us read my blog and left these comments -- thanks. Others -- keep the suggestions coming!]