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Crusher takes fresh look at online invitations

A new invitation organizer takes a swipe at Evite, Renkoo, MyPunchBowl, Socializr, etc.

There's yet another new invitation service emerging: Crusher. In many ways this service is the antithesis of MyPunchBowl, which we've recently covered. Crusher's design is super-clean and simple, and it doesn't have the over-the-top feature set of MyPunchBowl. We like MyPunchBowl. But we also like Crusher.

The site does the things you would expect from an invitation service: You can invite friends and track responses. You can use the service to find a good date for an event, too, if you've got some flexibility. It's clean and light and very Web 2.0.

Crusher has an approachable design. But you can really mess it up if you want to. CNET Networks

What might not be be obvious is that the service was carefully designed for a younger crowd than Evite et al. Crusher design templates are totally open. When you're working on an invitation, you can access an embedded CSS editor to tweak everything about its presentation, from styles and colors to which information is included and where it is on the page. "Fifteen-year-olds are learning HTML in school," co-founder Phillip Bensaid told me. He wants his system to be open and transparent so they can bend it to their will in ways not possible with other systems.

It's also being built to give the music community the most flexibility. If a band creates an event in Crusher, a fan can "crush" (really, clone) the invitation and create a private version of it to wrangle his or her friends to go to the show. That's a neat feature.

The Crusher team is working on a Facebook version, which is key to any social organizing service these days.

I like Crusher because it's light and clean. It appeals to my geriatric design sensibility, and I'd be comfortable recommending it to nongeek Web users. The fact that it's wide open to Web nerds is interesting, and I'll be curious to see if people begin to use it as a platform in the way its developers hope.

See also: Renkoo and Socializr.