It’s yet another app to join the crowded chat and IM market, but Donut Chat can help to bring web working teams together. Group chats can take place in a Facebook page, on a personalized domain such as webworkerdaily.donutchat.com, or embedded in a web page. You can leave the chat open so team members can chat whenever they want.
What’s nice is that each member of the team doesn’t need to register for a Donut account to use it. Just one team member registers and becomes the administrator of the account. Everyone else can sign into Donut with existing OpenID, Twitter or Facebook credentials. If you want to open your chat room to the public, you can allow guests to sign in without a password.
Like most apps. chatters can send private messages to each other. Users can share files; videos from YouTube, Vimeo and MetaFilter and photos from Flickr.
For the most part, it takes little work to dive into Donut. Enter the chat room and it’s all straightforward. Nonetheless, the administrator faces a couple of user interface challenges and confusing features. For example, I banned one of my IDs and then couldn’t figure out how to remove the ban. Each room comes with its own settings, which I overlooked because the interface is different for administrators and users. Managing bans is accomplished under the room settings, which also allow the administrator to password protect the room, rename the room and change the topic. Other administrator options include “kick” (temporary removal from the room), “ban” (permanent removal) and “make moderator.”
The other confusing feature is “Login Access.” Donut has three login access options available. “New registrations” allows a user to sign up as a member of the chat; no one else can use that person’s member name. “Guest logins” lets anyone sign in without a password. “Allow member logins” lets members with a reserved name sign in.
To set up Donut in Facebook, first sign up at Donut and then go to Donut’s Facebook page to grab the app. I set up a Facebook page and added a tab for the chat, so you’re welcome to try Donut Chat’s Facebook feature (note: the chat can only hold up to 10 people, in case you can’t get in). Here’s a quick screencast that shows you how to add Donut Chat to your Facebook page and assign moderator rights:
Donut has a free Starter plan that allows for two chat rooms, room for 10 chatters and sharing of files up to 10 MB. The free plan is enough for a small team or a one-person business that wants to keep the door open for clients and colleagues. Other plans range from $12 per month up to $99 per month. The paid plans offer the ability to use the iPhone / iPod touch (s aapl) with Donut Chat, add password protection and integrate the chat with third-party apps.
What do you think of Donut Chat and its Facebook feature?