“Evite sucks” is not a revolutionary opinion. The online invitation company has been the subject of substantial vitriol for how much their site design feels like it’s from 1998, when they launched. It would be impossible not to respond to this overwhelming criticism, and the newly re-launched Evite attempts to address many of its user experience problems.
“It should feel snappier than it has in the past,” says Evite CEO Hans Wooley. Yes it should, with hipper clones like Pingg, Punchbowl, Socializr and Crush3r fast approaching. Even the moms have moved their PTA bakesale announcements over to Paperless Post.
But the MySpace of online invitation services refuses to take any lessons from these smaller, scrappier startups, something that even MySpace, to its credit, is now starting to do. It’s still slow (according to Alexa 76% of sites are faster than the old Evite.com) and it’s still full of ads.
This latest Fantasy Interactive-designed version boasts a much cleaner UI designed to take you straight to the invites, a marked improvement. Glomming off the socialized content trend, it has a new Facebook Events-like feature imaginatively called “Event Conversation,” where hosts and guests can comment and post pictures. The site also added hundreds of new still cheesy looking invitations and small functionality changes like being able to seamlessly add guests from past events to an invitation
I tried sending out an invite earlier today and the new site loaded “sending” and timed out before it told me that I needed more information to complete the process, even though I had all the fields filled out.
Then, despite the fact that the prompt was telling me I couldn’t send an invite, I got two successive emails in my inbox thanking me for sending an invite. Twenty minutes later I still hadn’t received my actual invite. So I’ll post what I did receive below.
That is not attractive anyway you slice it. Compare this with the welcome email I received and the invite I created on Pingg, which both arrived at the same time. Look ma, no Wolverine (or any) ad!
When I finally did receive an Evite invitation after trying three times, it looked like this, with no party information visible. There was absolutely nothing at all to aid a user in the decision of whether or not to attend. In stark contrast to Pingg, you’re basically forced to click though.
When asked why the emailed invite was not at all informative, an Evite representative responded:
“We try to encourage RSVP and interaction with the invite, that is why event hosts love Evite, they get to track RSVPs and easily communicate with guests. Also, our business model is built on the invitation view, there is no advertising in the invitation email.”
The “Also, our business model …” aside speaks volumes. The new Evite can add all the social sharing and conversation functionality it wants but unless it pays attention to how people are actually inviting other people to things, it’s just another platform with the fatal flaw of refusing to understand that user experience should trump advertising revenue always. But especially when people can just use Facebook.
Their promo video and screencaps below.