Saturday, October 11, 2008

MyPunchBowl- Fabulous New Features but Nonsensical Flow

When I read about MyPunchBowl’s latest updates on TechCrunch, I was excited to check them out. Indeed, the Design Studio- where one can create an invitation from scratch or customize existing invitations- was impressive. I could quickly and easily change the background design, font, colors, and even add decorative ribbons. The functionality was so impressive that I wished they already had the ability to print out real invitations. (TechCrunch mentioned that they are currently working on adding that capability.) I also thought the ability to poll friends for a convenient date was clever.

The site’s usability, however, was poor. I could not view any invitation designs without first creating an account. Asking for users to provide personal information is a deterrent even after the users have been engaged; asking for personal information without showing them anything is undoubtedly losing MyPunchBowl users. After signing up and naming my event, creating an invitation was the fourth and last option in the menu, ranked underneath Get Inspired (party tips), Poll for a Date, and Save the Date. Those three options are significantly less important to users than the ability to create and send invitations, and I was surprised to see that the online invitations option was so under-emphasized.

If I had a tool like the Design Studio, I would give it prominent placement on my homepage and let users play around with it before requiring them to sign up. Saving the best for last is not an adage that works well for the Web.

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