The web brings with it great opportunities to connect with others centered around just about any common interest, and there are a multitude of tools and services available to help facilitate this. A new player in this area is BlastGroups, which is entering public beta today.
BlastGroups makes it really easy to create your own community site where you can share just about anything with your group. Features include message boards, email blasts, events, pictures, videos, audio and more. The interface is simple and logical without a lot of flash or flair. Toolbar bookmarks make “Sending a Blast” to your groups or contacts remarkably simple. Integrated RSVP functionality make the calendar really useful for event planning.
For the web worker, the privacy options allow varying levels of access to your group including keeping it entirely hidden and invite only. This could make it an option for small group project management or collaboration. For testing purposes, I mocked up a group for WWD authors to share links and story ideas and can see it being very effective for this purpose.
The list of groups already available is understandably small, but as easy as it is to get something up and running I expect the catalog to expand quickly. If you don’t find what you are looking for, you can start your own group in just a matter of moments. A wizard like interface steps you through the process and you can be up and running quickly. Invite your friends and you are good to go. I can see BlastGroups being a great option for families, organizations, fan-club sites, and more. It’s dead simple to set up and use which should encourage those less technically able to jump right in.
Customization options for your group are a bit limited, allowing only color changes and a logo upload. I also had occasional moments of not knowing if I was in my group or on my profile, or if I was even logged in at all, but familiarity soon overcame these initial obstacles.
BlastGroups is free to use although there are occasional ads on the side of the page. They are relatively unobtrusive but I would appreciate the option to pay a monthly fee for ad-free usage. Registration is required to join or create groups.
What are you currently using to communicate with your groups? Could BlastGroups work for you?