High WASP Entertaining, Yes, The Online Invitation Is The Way Of The Future
The online invitation is the way of the future. There. I've said it. But, we aren't there yet.
The state of online invitations is currently defined by Evite. To the point where people use the word "Evite" to mean online invitation. Like Kleenex meaning tissue stored in a box to blow your nose with. People will often say that they don't like online invitations when they really mean they don't like Evite. But let's not be harsh. Evite was the first. Evite defined the space. They developed the concept and ironed out the bugs. Problem is they didn't end up with a good user experience. And technology has evolved to where it could be better and other companies have plans. For all I know, Evite has plans.
For now, let's take a quick look at why Evite hasn't been able to convert wedding, birthday, or fabulous cocktail parties over to online invitations. I say quick because I will spare you a full-fledged User Experience analysis of the site. You can thank me later. So. The goals of what we might call premium invitations are to a) brand, communicate, convey the spirit of your party b) honor and delight your guests c) give you a creative outlet d) manage attendance. Evite focuses on managing attendance. Everything else is secondary. Just take a look at their landing page. Targeted more to "event management" than "fabulous invitation design."
And customizing the design? You can't really. You can insert a couple of images into a few slots.
Your guests don't have a much better experience. They receive this in their email. It's not dreadful, but it's not inviting...get it? It's not deluxe.
When guests land on the invitation, it's a static page. A real invitation might have confetti, might have a pocketfold, might have an RSVP card. It's what we call in Web 2.0 design, "the progressive reveal." And Evite's underlying design around managing event data becomes clear at this point. You fill in a form. Like a shopping cart. Where's the romance, the mystery, the allure of a great event?
It's not their fault. Evite was first. Back when data ruled the world and HTML meant that each page had to be a form to "submit." But we don't want to be data when we go to a party. And the world doesn't reveal itself to us in a series of static pages. In the world of real, lovely, paper invitations, you have texture, crinkling, movement, surprises. My prediction is that these will come to online invitations too, that the wave has already begun. It may move beyond self-serve, have to involve talented designers, just like custom paper invitations do.
In this case, my tech career trumps High WASP regard for tradition. I believe that the higher goals of the invitation tradition can be brought into the virtual world with no loss of interest. I'm not alone, in fact. Which is the code word for More To Follow.