StikiPad, Inc is the brainchild of two entrepreneurs on a mission to create some new functionality for the web. How are they progressing? Well, from my point of view, they seem to be doing pretty darn good. In fact, my first though was… “Oh… a little competition for 37signals.” Truly, it seems like they have created a project here that will merge a few of the offerings of 37signals into one place (namely their popular Writeboard, Ta-Da List, and Backpack).
StikiPad has four service levels: Free, Personal, Power User, and Team. You can easily try out their full service using the Free plan, and upgrade to get the additional features later. The largest amount of differences are in the category of a few of their customization and administration features. However, in my view the most vital difference between the plans in is disk space and bandwidth allowances, and the the fact that all plans (except the free, for which you get one) have an unlimited amount of wikis you can create. The features are very impressive, particularly in regard to what is provided to free accounts.
As I mentioned, I see this service very similar to those others I mentioned, so a small comparison in price is easily evident if you were just to consider the Backpack service from 37signals versus StickiPad pricing. For instance, the first level paid plan for Backpack is $5 per month, and allows you 25 pages, 80 MB of disk space, and 100 reminders. For the first level of service in Stikipad, you get an unlimited amount of wikis (not just pages), 150 MB of disk space, and 1 GB of bandwidth for $4.95 per month. Now the reminders offered in Stikipad are only for changes (that I can tell) so perhaps adding in the ability to set a time due for tasks in your task lists would be helpful. It definitely blows away JotSpot and their first level of service at $9.95 per month. On the other hand, I think they have some interesting competition in the form of another newcomer, Schtuff.com, which offers 200 MB of free wiki hosting and many of the same features.
My Test Run
I made my free account on StikiPad and you enter all the general information requested for most any registration system. Then it asks you for some information about your wiki, and what sort of permissions you would like to set. It gives you the option of keeping your wiki entirely private (relatively unheard of for free wikis), as well as a great option to set the sort of input you would like to use (Textile, Markup, or WYSIWYG). You can edit them all later, and here is a screen view of the editing page:
When you are done, it takes you to the rather simple interface for your wiki, and all the options you have for it. (Note: They have (currently) 4 other themes that you can use for account levels beyond the free account, and other account levels allow you to create your own templates and alter the CSS.)
You’ll notice a few of the really neat options they give you on this page. One of them is the task list, which is show as one of the menu options in the right hand side menu. You can create a new task list, adding tasks to each list. The one (very small) gripe I have about the task lists is that there are some small buttons to the right of your task that allow you work with your lists, as well as a little ‘x’ that appears on hover for the list. These buttons are way, way, too small. I’d like to see them increase in size to a more user friendly level.
Additionally, you can upload files and use them in your wiki. This is the only aspect of the wiki that I did not find immediately user intuitive. I found it relatively confusing what exactly these images shown in the tabs on the page were for or how they could be used. I assume there is documentation on these, but the average user is not prone to look, so I tried to figure it out based on what the typical user would see. In the end, while the upload feature made obvious sense, the images shown in the tabs did not. I’d suggest that they put some explanative text within that page section itself.
One of the other fabulous features they’ve implemented is RSS syndication of the wiki (which can even be done for private wikis – like the one I made – using a slightly different format), as well as the ability to download your wiki page in HTML or in the source formatting (meaning that if you used Textile to write it, you would be able to download it with all the formatting symbols intact).
I also like the ‘Email the page’ feature that they have. Very handy, and the use of Ajax makes all these features very smooth to use if you have a modern browser. In the image below, you can see how it looks to send a link to the page using their internal emailing system, as well as seeing how the list feature looks.
Finally, a look at their WYSIWYG editor. It’s very clean and nice to use, definitely a good thing. You have all your expected controls, and one rather pleasantly surprising one – a text box to add category tags to your entry.
On a technical level, StikiPad is made with Ruby on Rails, and is Ajax enhanced. The site runs very smoothly and is overall incredibly easy to manage. Aside from the tiny buttons for the lists, and the relatively confusing attachement page – I found the site to be very user-intuitive.
One comment that I would make is that I think the look and feel of the site is almost too much like 37signals products. In fact, that feeling was so strong that I went and read the about page on the people who developed StikiPad to see if it was a 37signals subcompany. Don’t take this the wrong way, I like the layout. It’s really nice. Even still, for some unique branding I’d suggest that creating a little more theme separation might be ideal, though obviously as a newcomer they will be working on code elements more than theme, at least for a while. My personal opinion would be to go darker, because everyone is designing light. Something like a navy or even a sleek black and grey look would set this company apart more dramatically. Obviously, keep the light theme since its already there, but maybe have theme switch for the site and a default of the darker. Just an idea.
Regardless, I found this StikiPad service to be very promising, and I think I’ll try using it to work on my book as a private wiki. 🙂