Oh god, Evite. It starts with an email about a party with no information about that party, and then it gets worse. But in many cases there's no reason you have to use the most popular site. Here's what to use instead of Evite, YouTube, Blogger, Twitter, Digg, and MapQuest.
Evite: Use Socializr or MyPunchbowl
The main problem with Evite is the uninformative email. "You are invited to Heather's Divorce Party," says Evite, with a personal message from the host but no actual information. To make a decision as a guest, I have to click over to Evite; that cramps my style if I'm trying to be at all productive with my inbox. Plus it's a pain when I'm en route to the party and need to double-check the address. If only I could just check my email on my phone, but no, all the info is trapped in Evite! The "send it to my phone" option is silly, as I probably won't remember to do that until I'm already away from my computer.
The site is also annoying to use: I can only export the event to iCal, RSVPing takes me to a useless page instead of back to the event, and the site is full of ads and unrelated links. Evite is the MySpace of invitations.
That's almost all fixed with Socializr and MyPunchbowl. Socializr sends a complete email with party time, location and information:
But the event page only lets guests export info to Outlook, not iCal, Google Calendar, or Yahoo Calendar. MyPunchbowl allows all of that, but although it leaves guests a pretty informative email, it leaves out the event location. (It's also cluttered with more "features" than I care about.) Because of that, I'm using Socializr for my next party.
YouTube: Use Vimeo
Seriously, why put anything on YouTube when Vimeo exists? Of all the alternative video sites — Veoh, Blip.tv, Revver — Vimeo is the best option for the average video maker (people with professional shows should also consider Blip.tv or VideoEgg). Here are YouTube's failures and how Vimeo beats them:
- Crap video quality: Remember the '90s, when online video was tiny and grainy? And then connections got faster and video was decently pretty again? And then YouTube made it all grainy again, with dissonant sound? Vimeo has better video quality, especially in its new HD format, which has 12 times the resolution of YouTube. (Those with pre-Intel Macs will have to watch the non-HD versions.) Viewers can also download the original video file.
- Ugly site: And ugly embeds. Not with Vimeo, which has a freshly updated embedded-video style that matches its slick, uncluttered web site.
- Horrible commenters: YouTube comments are spam and illiterate evaluations: "dis sux" or "lol." The video creator can either take hours to pick through all of them deleting bad comments, or ban comments altogether. Vimeo comments are not only readable, they're nearly all encouraging. Is the fantastic community only there because the site's so small? Who cares, it's not going to explode any time soon. It'll just steal the best creative users from YouTube.
An example of Vimeo's beauty:
Blogger: Use WordPress.com, Vox, or Tumblr
In its first few years, Blogger rocked; then like most Google acquisitions, it languished, until now it's a hive of spam blogs. Blogger isn't particularly heinous to use, it's just quite limiting. Now there are plenty of friendly blog interfaces for those of us who just want a simple blog with no mucking about in HTML.
WordPress.com is the most flexible, useful for people who want the power of WordPress without installing the whole thing on a server, or whatever people do to make their own WordPress blog (I've had a few, but I always needed someone else to set them up). There's room for HTML and custom CSS and stuff, so you can upgrade it. I Can Has Cheezburger is built on WordPress.com.
Vox is the new Blogger, as far as simplicity and friendliness. Pretty much no learning curve. It's designed to be the blog your mom can use. Lots of Vox blogs are happy and sunny; this one is also Warm 'n Fuzzy.
My favorite is Tumblr (which powers my personal site). This one's less about "dear diary" blogging and more "here's some stuff I found." The small input boxes encourage brevity, which is what your blog could use, isn't it?
Twitter: Use Pownce
I haven't stopped using Twitter. But I used to use it to ask questions when I needed a whole bunch of ideas ("Anyone know some songs about transvestites?"). Now I use Pownce, which lets people reply within a thread. It's like a comment thread without a blog post at the top, or a quick and easy mini-forum. It's also a more rewarding place to
pimp your boring blog posts link to entertaining webpages.
Digg: Use StumbleUpon
What if you could get Digg-like traffic without suffering the wrath of Digg commenters? Try StumbleUpon, which asks for "reviews" instead of a stream of comments, forcing users to actually think before posting about a site. That gives StumbleUpon the same community advantage Vimeo has over YouTube.
Get your site "Stumbled" and you could get several thousand pageviews — not always as much as Digg, but without the "this sucks u suck LOOSER" commentary.
MapQuest: Use Google Maps
You already know Google Maps is the best, but apparently most folks still use MapQuest, despite its awkward input forms and such. But, well, those folks aren't you. So I guess we've got a little extra time here before the article runs out. Go spend it at Vimeo.