After TechCrunch50 last week, you may have thought you had seen the best new Web 2.0 collaboration companies. In fact, it is not Tingz or Popego that's taking home that title, it's Wiggio. Launching into public beta today, Wiggio describes itself very simply, "Wiggio makes it easy to work in groups."
The entire concept of the site is based around making it simple for users to dive in and start using all of the features that they have to offer. If a feature seems too complicated for everyone to understand and use, it is not included. While its target market is currently college students, Wiggio has real potential to hit it big in other areas as well.
Wiggio is the brainchild of Dana Lampert and Lance Polivy, who founded the company through a business school project at Cornell University. The result is a startup that looks to challenge long standing giants, like 37signals. Supposedly, the two were fed up with the complications of group projects and decided to do something about it. They are spreading their gospel this fall in 40 colleges around the country, in a grassroots campaign to promote Wiggio.
Every feature of Wiggio (messaging, calendar, poll, folder, meetings, links) is ultra simple to use. That is the key point here. The downfall of most collaboration web apps is the learning curve. Group members, that you will inevitably have to work with, who are less tech savvy are quick to ditch a web based collaboration site if they do not get it right away, asking why it is even necessary. With Wiggio, it just clicks right away. More complicated products, like Backpack, do often provide great features, but tend to lose those who are not willing to sit down and learn it.
Wiggio's features are basically more simplified versions of what you would expect from a group collaboration site. Remember, that's a good thing. In addition to all of the usual on-site activities (bulletin board, calendar, links), Wiggio offers features that bring collaboration out of the confines of its site. Users can blast text messages to everyone in their group, schedule a free conference call, powered by Rondee, or send out an email poll to group members, asking a question of your choice, such as, "When can you guys meet?"
Wiggio's interface is simple and intuitive. From a usability standpoint, the site is great. There is rarely a question of what the next step is that you have to take in order to accomplish a task. The actual design of the site isn't really visually stimulating, but it gets the job done. They have nice icons and layout, for the most part, but overall, the design just doesn't excite me. That said, even though there are a lot prettier sites out there, a large portion of them suffer from usability issues that Wiggio simply doesn't have. At some point down the road, a fresh coat of paint on Wiggio's site would be welcome, but it really does not need to be a high priority right now. Site design, not intuitiveness or usability, is really one of the only things that I can knock Wiggio for.
Wiggio is available to everyone today in beta, no invites necessary. The founders have pledged to keep the site free, with no premium services. There will be "unobtrusive" ads, targeted by group type, served on the site in the near future, although they have not appeared yet. Lance and Dana also confirmed thatGoogle Calendar support is coming.
Wiggio knows how to beat the competition in group collaboration. It's not about adding all of the features that you can and giving control of every tiny detail to users, it's about simplicity and usability. At the end of the day, collaboration sites are only as strong as the least tech savvy group member using it. If that person can use and understand all of the features easily, then you have a winning product on your hands. This is what Wiggio has done.