An Additional Option for Removing Ads from Anyvite

It has now been 32 hours since we rolled out Anyvite Plus and a single banner ad for free invitations. Overall the response that we’ve received has been a positive one, but there have been some edge cases which the new pricing structure caused problems for. Specifically event organizers who create a lot of small events and would prefer not to have advertising shown on their invitations, but don’t require the increased guest list size or additional customization features. The volume of invitations that they create would result in a significant expenditure over the course of a year, so in order to make that a bit more palpable, we’ve just rolled out an additional pricing option that only removes the advertising from your invitation for the significantly reduced price of $3.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts and concerns with this new pricing option, as well as all of the other changes we’ve made in the past few days.

Exciting Updates and Introducing Anyvite Plus

For the past two years, Anyvite has been the easiest way to create and send invitations online for thousands of people. Over the past few months, we’ve seen a steady increase in new people discovering just how easy it is to send invitations with Anyvite, which has introduced its share of new challenges for the service. In order to continue offering the same level of functionality and reliability that Anyvite has become known for, we’re going to be making a few improvements in the coming days, which we’d like to share with you.

We’ve noticed two main problems that we feel need to be addressed in order to continue providing a great service.

  1. As with any increase in visitors to a website, the servers which power the service take a beating, which we’ve seen evidence of in recent months with slower page loads and sporadic periods of downtime.

  2. Some individuals have started taking advantage of the 1,000 guest list limit to mass email large groups of people for their own personal gain, resulting in email delivery problems for all users across the board. While we understand that occasionally some events are misinterpreted by end users as spam, steps must still be taken to limit these types of events in the future.

To deal with these issues, we’ve decided to take the current free service and break it into two tiers, Anyvite Basic and Anyvite Plus.

Anyvite Basic will continue as the free service you know and love. To help with the cost of servers, we’re introducing advertising on the main invitation page, and to limit both spam and the overall effect on system performance, we’re limiting new invitations to a maximum of 250 guests. You can take a look at a sample Anyvite Basic invitation here:

While Anyvite Basic is suited for most events, we realize that there are some event organizers who routinely invite more than 250 guests and prefer invitations without advertising. For them, we’ve created Anyvite Plus, which features advertising free invitations and an increased guest list cap of 1500 people (which is 50% larger than the current Anyvite offering). In addition, we’re also introducing significantly enhanced capabilities for customizing the look and feel of your invitations, including changing fonts, colors, styles, and even allowing the use of custom CSS. You can get all of these new features and functionality for the low price of $10 per event.

We’re really excited about Anyvite Plus because it gives us the opportunity to release great features, like enhanced customization options, to users who can really take advantage of them. It also gives power users a way to contribute to Anyvite, so we can continue to provide and improve upon the service you know and love!

These changes will be going into effect for all newly created events starting on November 1st, 2010. Everyone should start seeing improvements in page load speed and less downtime almost immediately, and a higher percentage of emails being delivered directly to recipients inboxes as time goes on. We’d love to hear your feedback on these changes, so please contact us at any point with your thoughts. Thanks and happy holidays!

UPDATE: We’ve also added an additional option to only remove the advertising, without an increase in the guest list cap or additional customization. You can read more about that here:

So Long ShareSpace, and thanks for all the fish!

Today we said goodbye to a feature that has been with us since the beginning.  When Jeff and I were first creating Anyvite (it was called Coordinatr then!) I snuck in a feature I called the ShareSpace.  The idea was you would upload pictures and video to Flickr and YouTube, tag it with some text we gave you and it would then show up on the ShareSpace page of your invitation.  It was a good idea but wasn’t executed to its full potential.  That combined with constant problems with Flickr images not showing up in their public search ment lots of problems.  And since it was one of our least used features, we decided to choose the easy path and remove it entirely.

It may seem strange to some, but I celebrate the removal of a feature just as much as adding a new one.  Most people who haven’t created web or other applications don’t realize that each additional feature compounds the overall complexity of a system.  So the more features you have, the harder it is to make the entire system run well.

But it’s not all bad news!  We also recently added support for Gravatars which means some of your guests will have profile pictures now without ever having to upload their own to Anyvite.  This is especially helpful for technical events since people who comment on blogs are the most likely to have Gravatars setup.  We also simplified the navigation to the Manage Guests page from the invitation.  Since we removed the ShareSpace link, we were able to breakout the “Invite Guests” and “Manage Guest List” pages into two separate links which should make it easier to navigate around the invitation.

New Anyvite Potluck Feature for the Holidays!

Thanksgiving Table

With the holidays rapidly approaching, the number of potluck type of events organized with Anyvite will increase dramatically.  While it is possible to manage these type of events using the description field and comment board, it’s much much easier to have built in functionality to handle the “who’s bringing what” question.  In response to this, we’ve developed a “Potluck” feature on Anyvite for hosts to specify and manage the items which they would like guests to bring to an event.

Next time you’re creating an invitation where you need guests to bring different items, simply enable the Potluck feature on the “Edit Details Page” by clicking the checkbox next to “Have Guests Bring Items to your Event (Potluck)”.  Then, fill in the items that you would like guests to bring and how many of each you need.  Finally, decide if you’d like your guests to be able to see who is bringing each item, or if you’d just like to restrict that view only to the host of the event.

Add Potluck Functionality

Once you save and send that invitation, anyone who RSVPs will have the option to select an item to bring to the event.  The summary table will display all of the items available to bring, how many are needed, how many are still remaining, and who is bringing each item.  If you would like to print this information out, simply export the guest list and the potluck information will be included with the guest’s name and RSVP type.  Hosts are able to change or remove the item that guests are bringing by using the “Change RSVP” link under the name of the guest (or if profile pictures are disabled, clicking the guest’s name).

View Potluck Functionality

For now, we’re restricting who can select an item to only guests who RSVP “Yes” to an event, for the obvious reason that you don’t want a guest who RSVPs “Maybe” to be responsible for a crucial item and then not show up.  If you feel differently about this, please contact us and let us know what your ideal solution would be.

Keep an eye out for many more exciting additions and updates to Anyvite!  Also, please remember to switch over your Groups to Contact Lists before the end of the month!

Manage Guests and the End of Groups

Many of you have been asking for a better way to manage an invitation’s guest list, and rightfully so.  The old “Invite Guests” page tried to be both the place to invite new guests as well as manage the existing guest list.  In theory, it was a nice idea but it never worked very well since an invitation’s guest list and the host’s address book don’t always completely overlap.

Today we launched a new version of the site which includes an updated “Invite Guests” page and a brand new “Manage Guests” page as well.  You can access both by going to the “Invite Guests” page as you always have and then look for the tabs on the top to switch over to the “Manage Guests” page.

Manage Guests Tabs

The new “Invite Guests” page was redesigned to have the same look and feel as the address book, and now supports your Anyvite address book contact lists so you can finally invite guests that way!

The “Manage Guests” page is brand new and adds two highly requested features to Anyvite: removing any guest from the invitation regardless of if they have viewed it or not, and the ability to resend the invitation to selected guests.

As we add features and functionality to Anyvite, we also like to review the current state of the service and see what we can do to make it simpler.  The original idea behind the Anyvite groups functionality was a grand one involving shared contact lists, but ended up not being developed to its full potential for a multitude of reasons.  Ultimately, groups worked okay for some users, but weren’t a great solution for anyone.  For this reason, we’ve decided to phase out groups and replace them with the newly completed contact lists.

To make the transition easy, we’ve already converted each group to a contact list for each group admin.  You should see them listed under contact lists in your address book.  If any group members want to create a contact list based on a group, there is a link on the main group page that will convert it for you.  We’re planning to leave this in place until November 1st at which point we’ll fully remove the rest of the groups functionality.  Please note that once converted, the resulting contact list isn’t shared between users anymore, so a change to one won’t affect any other contact list.

We’re excited about the new guest list management features and hope it makes your Anyvite experience that much better!  If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. And remember, Halloween is on a Saturday this year, so start making plans with our free Halloween Invitations.

Anyvite Premium Invitation Sites

Over the past few months, we’ve been working on some exciting new projects, one of which we launched last month. Today, we’re happy to announce the release of another of those projects: Anyvite Premium Invitation Sites.

Anyvite Premium Invitation Sites

Anyvite Premium Invitation Sites allow businesses, organizations, clubs and even individuals to have their own fully customized site dedicated to organizing events under their own brand. Sites are able to be configured as either public (anyone can create a branded invitation) or private (you designate who can organize events), and consist of a whole array of options which can be toggled or disabled at will.

Premium Invitation Site Options

Getting started is as easy as selecting a plan, choosing a site name, and adding in your billing info. Every plan comes with a 15 day free trial, so if you’re not satisfied with the experience, simply cancel your plan before the 15 days are up and you won’t be charged a thing. As an added incentive, we’re providing our basic site design customization service for free to any new customers. Simply sign up for a site, and then send us an email with your new site’s URL, as well as information about how you would like to customize your site.

Premium Site Plans and Pricing

Premium Sites are perfectly suited for existing businesses which conduct a large number of events on a regular basis and are looking to add another offering to their existing services, or for groups and organizations looking to further their brand by utilizing events as means to connect with existing or future customers.

If you have any questions about Anyvite Premium Invitation Sites or if our current packages don’t fit your needs, please contact us and we’ll get things sorted out for you.

New Daily Invitation Activity Emails

We’ve just pushed out new functionality today for updating guests on activity to invitations which they’ve RSVPed “Yes” or “Maybe” to.  In the past, new comments and RSVPs have slipped under the radar for most guests because notifications were not in place to alert them to new activity.  Now, if there is any activity on one of your invitations, you’ll receive a daily email to notify you of new changes, and allow you to view RSVPs and respond to comments on the invitation itself.

Picture 83

Additionally, if someone responds to a comment that you’ve made on the message board, you’ll receive an email right away telling you that, and allowing you to respond back to them in almost real time.  We hope that this facilitates better and more lively discussions on the message board!

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this new update to Anyvite, as well as anything else which may be on your mind!

A new dashboard, Hosted By field, and much more!

We’ve released another significant update to the site which should fix a lot of the quirks and bugs that you may have been experiencing recently.  In addition, we’ve made some strides in updating the dashboard to be a bit cleaner and less cluttered, as well as added in the ability to enter in a “hosted by” name, rather than just using the name of your Anyvite account.  Check it out and let us know your thoughts!

 Picture 44

We hope everyone had a great Memorial Day Weekend and are looking forward to a summer filled with BBQs, picnics, parties and fun!

A New Progress Bar when Creating Invitations

We’ve just added a new feature to the site which lets you track where you are in the process of creating an invitation.  We had received some feedback from users who thought that some parts of the process were a bit ambiguous, so this should hopefully help to alleviate that.  

Picture 31

It works basically as expected.  You can always go backwards to steps that you’ve already completed or skipped, but have to perform the necessary actions to move forward in the process.   We’d love to hear your thoughts on whether you think it makes creating an invitation easier or harder, so please let us know!

Profile pictures are now optional

Picture 25

From the moment that we began building Anyvite, our thought and assumption was always that people creating and viewing invitations would want to be able to see profile pictures of other invited guests.  We’ve held strong to this idea for well over a year now, but as hard-headed as we may be, there have been enough plausible scenarios where adding in the ability to disable profile pictures made sense.  So as of today, invitation creators now have the ability to disable profile pictures from their invitations.  This ultimately turns the guest list from a “3 across” setup to a list view, as shown to the right.

This new functionality can be toggled by going to the “Edit Details” section of the invitation, and expanding the “Additional Options” at the very bottom of the page.  There is an option there for “Show Profile Pictures”.  Simply uncheck the box and save.

As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on the new functionality, and anything else we could do to improve the service.  Keep an eye out for more great updates in the near future!

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