Rhetorical Answer

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A response to the question never asked

Simplicity by Design

Lately, I have been looking at web sites that appeal through the simplicity of their interfaces.

Answering the simple question: Do I need an umbrella today?
http://umbrellatoday.com/

The site promises simplicity, and it delivers. The only whistle to go with its single bell is that it offers a text service to notify you on days you’ll need an umbrella. Unfortunately, it can’t text you after you forget your umbrella in the bar after work.

To send and manage electronic invitations:
http://anyvite.com/home

Anyvite is definitely simpler to use than Evite. I was able to enter event details immediately (as opposed to wading through 500+ cheesy greeting card templates), and Anyvite imported my address book contacts seamlessly. One strange thing I noticed was this message, located at the bottom of the e-mail invitation I sent out, in light gray text on a white background (as though it were hiding from me, the little imp):

Note: Please do not forward this email. Doing so will give other people access to your Anyvite account.

Apparently, the recipient’s identity is included in the invitation’s View and RSVP links, so if Joe forwards the invitation to Schmoe, Anyvite updates Joe’s RSVP status if Schmoe clicks any of the e-mail’s links. Hrm. So instead, Joe needs to paste a special forwarding-friendly URL into a separate e-mail to his friends. The trade-off to this inconvenience is that the original recipients don’t need to register with the service in order to RSVP to the invitation. They just click the big ol’ YES or NO buttons in their e-mail, add an optional comment, and they’re done. Not totally effortless, but pretty close.

Remember the days when we had to handwrite invitations, wedge them into teeny, oddly shaped envelopes, address them individually, lick gross-tasting stamps and envelope edges, and physically mail them? And our guests had to go through a similar rigamarole to respond? That party had to be good to justify all the effort.

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Filed under: Design, , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. 987s says:

    Another one that I appreciate: The Google homepage. It does web searches. And that’s it.

    I noticed MSN Live (http://www.live.com/) has tried for clean and clear too. But it is still messier than Google.

  2. Dan Morin says:

    Thanks for mentioning Anyvite. We’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible while continuing to grow and add features.

    You hit the nail on the head with regards to the links in the emails and the trade-offs involved. Because most people complain about how difficult it can be to respond to other invitations, we wanted to make it as simple as possible!

    Thanks again!

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