[Updated 12/06/09: Indicated dead sites]
I’m getting quite tired of Evite. The ads suck, the layout sucks, the lack of features sucks, etc. It hasn’t changed in at least the last 8 years, except to get slower and include bigger ads. Therefore I started looking for alternatives and here’s what I found:
- MyPunchbowl: Interesting feature where you can start out with Save the Date or Full Invitation. Cool use of AJAX to integrate with Flickr for invitation image and Google for maps. Features party store locator (i.e. revenue source) and after-party message board and photos/videos. The invitation page isn’t as themable as some, but overall, the service does appear to be a better Evite.
Skobee[GONE]: Very nice-looking, professional, icon-driven interface. Supports fuzzy scheduling and the ability for guests to suggest times and places. Really cool email integration: create, update, and RSVP to plans just by cc’ing firstname.lastname@example.org on your emails (check out the Screencast tour). Automatically gets location address, telephone, and map from Google. Except for RSS/ICal feeds, doesn’t have the integration features of some of the other sites. Supports public events, but doesn’t really seem to feature many.
- Socializr: A very feature-rich clone of Evite. If you once loved Evite, but now just wish it didn’t suck, you’ll probably love Socializr. Integrates well (almost invasively) with other profile sites (MySpace, Flickr, Yelp, …), imports email addresses from all the big free services (as well as Outlook/Plaxo, OS X, and CSV), and let’s you customize your invitations and URLs. I like the way the invitation email includes both the event details and the theme image.
- Planypus: Shows public events and manages your social calendar in addition to letting you invite friends to both public and private events. Good presentation and use of AJAX. Offers ability to add multiple places and times and have people vote on them. Features blog/web widgets and export to Outlook, Facebook, and Google Calendar. Nice Screencast tour and FAQ. The test invitations I sent arrived at my gmail account immediately, but haven’t made it to my Hotmail account after 24 hours. However, I blame Hotmail, and the Planypus guys are actively working on resolving the issue… They seem to be very motivated to produce a great service.
Renkoo[GONE]: Very cute (girly, even), polished, and AJAX-y. Features notifications by IM or text message, contact import from the usual places, calendar export to Outlook/iCalender, Yahoo, and Google, while-you-type location lookup, and flexible time and location.
(I did run into one usability issue though: By default it sent my invitation to me, which caused it to generate a new password for my account. It’s very confusing when the first page you see after Send Invitation is the login screen and your password doesn’t work… Also, I’m not too fond of the way invitees have to log in with their email address and generated password; there should just be a link in the email dammit.)
- Goovite: Very simple, no frills, no ads, no business-plan invitations with accepted / tentative / declined / unanswered tallying and option to leave a public or private comment.
DarkGuest[GONE]: Also simple, no frills, no ads, no business-plan invitations with image URL, accepted / declined / unanswered tallying, public note, and private response. View the sample invitation. Unfortunately, the operator plans to shut it down soon. For this reason, I’d recommend Goovite instead; it’s almost identical, though there’s no image URL.
- WhizSpark: Seems primarily focused on commercial event marketing and organizing. Not really what I’m looking for…
- shindigg: Appears to be a straightforward Evite replacement with much better photo features. However, it’s in limited beta right now, so you can’t use it without requesting to join the beta program. The only public event on it right now is/was Bonza Bash.
All in all, Socializr looks like the best general Evite replacement as far as features go, though the interface isn’t as polished as some. If you want simple and cute, Renkoo is pretty nice (and will match your pink Moto Razr). If you also want calendar sharing and public events, Planypus seems to better in that regard. But if you prefer to use email for your planning, Skobee seems pretty cool.