If you’ve been looking for an absolutely easy way to collaborate with a group, I’d recommend trying out Wiggio. The application just came into public beta today and it’s one of the easiest-to-use collaboration tools I’ve run across. If you’ve ever had to work with group members unfamiliar with tools beyond email, Wiggio can provide an easy solution for group collaboration. It’s not too bad for more advanced users looking for a simple interface, either.

Signing Up

Signing up for Wiggio is fairly standard. You have to set up an account and confirm by clicking on a link in an email. From there, you have two options. You can join an existing group or create a new group.

Beyond the standard request for an email address and a password, Wiggio also requests your cell phone number and your provider. While you don’t have to provide that information, with it, Wiggio will send you text messages about posts and other activities happening in your groups. According to Wiggio’s policy, such information will be kept private. There isn’t a lot of information about their security measures available on their site, however. It’s up to you whether you want to trust Wiggio with your phone number.

Creating a New Group

When you create a new group, it’s very obvious that Wiggio started out as a way to organize groups at school. Beyond the choice of business, you can organize a group for your class, sorority, student government or a host of other student activities. I’m hoping that Wiggio adds a few more grown-up options but for now, I’m just sticking with whatever seems closest to my needs — usually business.

The Interface

Wiggio’s interface is very simple — lots of clearly-labeled buttons that less-than-internet-savvy group members can handle without much trouble. There are six main tools:

  1. Calendar — A fairly simple shared calendar that allows you to manage group events. There’s no easy way to add this calendar to whatever time management system you use, but you can set up an automatic email whenever a change is made to the calendar (or any other part of your group). Gmail seems to be able translate those emails into Google Calendar events without an issue.
  2. Folder — You can upload most file types to your Wiggio groups. Wiggio can even handle version-tracking automatically. A group member can download the file, change it and re-upload it. He doesn’t need to change the file name or anything for Wiggio to recognize it as a new version. Old versions are still available.
  3. Meeting — Wiggio offers two types of meetings for users: a chatroom and a conference call. For conference calls, Wiggio uses Rondee, a free conference call service. Wiggio will also host chats for your group.
  4. Poll — Not all collaboration applications offer any tools to help with decision making, but with Wiggio’s Poll system, you can matters to a vote in your group. You don’t even need to track responses to get an answer.
  5. Messages — Through Wiggio, you can send messages to group members in three different ways: text message, email and voice note. You can also post notes on your group’s home page, but no guarantee that group members will log in and see them. I was a little concerned at first that the text message and voice mail options meant that the entire group would have access to my phone number, but all of that is handled internally.
  6. Links — The link tool is simply a place to paste in links so that your group has a shared set of bookmarks.

Wiggio’s tools aren’t anything new, but the way they’re put together make them very easy to work with. For those of us who wind up spending more time explaining to a group how to use collaboration software than working on our group project, Wiggio’s interface makes it very worthwhile. And while other sites offer more robust conferencing tools, Wiggio’s ability to keep up with group comments is a great option for those organizations not so dependent on teleconferencing.

There is definintely an assumption for Wiggio that group members aren’t going to be sitting at their desks all day, every day. If you’ve had problems keeping touch with those members of your group that seem to prioritize their social lives over group meetings, being able to send them text message reminders may prove invaluable.

If you’re managing multiple groups, Wiggio’s interface does make the process easier. Recent updates to all your groups are shown on your homepage as icons showing which tool has been used. You can navigate directly to specific updates, rather than going through your groups to get to particular tool pages, and you can easily navigate between multiple groups. Adding new members to your groups is just as simple as knowing their email addresses, as well — they can easily be members of multiple groups with no fuss.

Wiggio was designed by a group of seniors at Cornell University who were tired of the variety of tools they had to use to keep their group projects running and systems that required techno-savvy to use. Rather than struggle with list-servs and long email lists, they put together one site that could do it all — and for all the different groups they participated in at school. The Wiggio team is clearly starting to branch out to other organizations, like small businesses and committees, as well. There is no cost to use Wiggio. The site uses advertisements to make money.

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