I’m on a big demo-taking kick right now as part of my blogging work here at Web Worker Daily. I will always disclose if a company gives me any freebies, but for the most part, I’m testing out freemium Web applications so we all get something for nothing. This brings me to Backboard, a Web-based app that facilitates the too-often convoluted process of getting and giving feedback online.
Backboard launched about three months ago and on the surface looks so simple that you may easily dismiss it. In those three months, however, the company has aggressively listened and responded to user feedback, adding in several new features in just the last few weeks that they are about to announce. You, my dear readers, are getting the inside skinny in advance.
Here’s how Backboard works:
1. You create your Backboard. You can upload any document or image, but better yet, you can also enter text for feedback on copy or a URL for feedback on a Web page or site. Perfect for anyone working on image approvals, web site development, publications, copy for marketing collateral – you name it. And you don’t have to register in order to create a Backboard.
2. Name your Backboard and select security level. The site launched with “Open to anyone who knows the URL” and “Require a secret Access key” as security options but more recently added “Restrict to people I invite” as a Premium feature for added security.
3. Check if you are requesting approval. You have the option to ask for approval or just feedback. The approval checkbox is a new feature.
4. Add comments and your email address. Your comments elaborate on what you are seeking from others in terms of feedback or approval. Your email address ties the Backboard to you.
5. Enter email addresses for participants. If you’d like to create Groups to organize your email addresses, you do need to register and sign in. You can also import email addresses from your Gmail, Outlook, LinkedIn and more.
6. Access feedback. On your Backboard page, you can see the file, text or site you are seeking comments on, a list of who you are still waiting to hear from (new feature), a list of feedback from all participants as they leave it (refreshes every few minutes). You can also share the Backboard with others, leave feedback yourself, reply to someone’s feedback (new feature) in a thread – and all the dialog is viewable by all participants so everyone is on the same page – literally.
The dark background. Usually dark sites don’t work, but in the case of Backboard, the dark background makes the files, images, text (black text on white area) or sites really pop in contrast. Easy to view, easy to read.
The Mac love. The developers were very focused on design and very keyed into Mac users.
URL permanence. Even if you never register and never plan to use Backboard again, your Backboard has a permanent URL that you can revisit and continue using anytime.
Backboard aggregation. If you do decide to register, as long as you use the same email at all times, Backboard will gather all the Backboards you’ve created and even participated in listed on a Dashboard. You can then access them by clicking My Backboards (you must log in).
Multipage document viewer. The site imports multiple page documents such as PowerPoint slide presentations into an elegant viewer. Slick.
Pricing for the Premium
Premium accounts list SSL Encryption, Maximum Security features and Commercial Use as the added features. All levels provide an unlimited number of Backboards. A free account allows up to 5 MB files while an individual account at $5/month allows 20 MB files. Team accounts at $19/month provide six separate accounts for team members with a 50 MB file size limit. The Office level at $49/month covers 15 separate accounts and up to 50 MB file size limit.
The folks at Increo, the company responsible for creating Backboard, work to provide “idea management and innovation tools.” Backboard came about after they were passing the logo design for their company back and forth to everyone involved in the design and decision-making process.
I’ll be keeping an eye out for their next application that I’m sure will help me with more challenging aspects of my Web work. And if you try it out, let me know what you think.