It’s time to give credit to web conferencing products that include truly unusual, innovative, and useful features that set them apart from the crowd. Most of these are things I have mentioned in past blog posts, but I thought it would be helpful to bring them together in a convenient reference post.
Please note… I am picking and choosing quite subjectively here. As I mention a product and feature, I am NOT reviewing that product, endorsing it overall as a better solution than its competitors, or talking about other functionality that may be equally interesting or deficient within the same software. I’m merely pointing out some things that as far as I know can be found only in a single product.
1) ON24 Webcasting Platform 10 (also the basis of their Webcast Elite). ON24 gets two special feature mentions. First is the overall webcasting console window. Attendees can operate it like a self-contained windowed operating system for the webcast. They can independently open, close, size, and move content windows around the screen to their hearts’ content. Administrators can optionally choose to fix certain content windows in size, position, or open status. It’s intuitive and user friendly.
I also want to call out an application widget in this version of their software. It lets attendees add ideas or questions, comment on other people’s contributions, and vote them up or down in value/importance. Perfect for brainstorming or in guiding the topic of conversation.
2) Adobe Connect. The new release of Connect just starting rollout contains a huge piece of functionality that deserves extra attention. It allows administrators to do what I call “rich customization” of landing pages, registration pages, webinar login pages, and emails. Some other companies will customize your pages as an optional service offering, but Adobe now gives you the ability to do complete graphic layout and design yourself, incorporating text, pictures, and data fields to create a fully branded user experience unhindered by vendor layout restrictions.
3) PresenterNet. PresenterNet gives webinar hosts the ability to add interactive control elements onto presentation slides to be shown during a web event. Called InterActors, these active graphic controls let attendees provide feedback and response within the mainstream of the presentation, without having to stop and answer a poll as a separate activity. Controls include text boxes to collect comments, slider bars to measure response gradations, checkboxes, and buttons. This opens up new opportunities for attendee interaction and engagement.
I can’t believe I wrote about this all the way back in 2009 and nobody else has duplicated the functionality.
4) omNovia. omNovia includes a webinar recording and playback functionality called Recast that goes far beyond other content recording systems. You can record a session with full interactivity enabled. The playback acts just like a live webinar, letting viewers type questions, answer polls, pull content, visit hyperlinks, and so on. But the usefulness of that doesn’t become apparent until you realize that you can play back your recording inside a new live webinar session. In effect, you can run an entire live event multiple times for different audiences. You can schedule the playback to run automatically with no supervision or you can have live moderators/presenters in the session to interact with the audience while the playback continues. It’s the best of both worlds.
5) ReadyTalk. ReadyTalk gets a shout-out for tying webinar scheduling directly to press and promotion. You can generate a PR Newswire press release containing all the vital information about webinar title, topic, date, time, and registration information automatically pulled from your scheduling details. It gives you a chance to make edits and then select your distribution options.
6) IDEAL Conference from IDEAL Group. Many products claim to be Section 508 compliant, but IDEAL Conference is the only web conferencing product out there designed from the ground up to fully accommodate the needs of attendees who may be sight impaired or hearing impaired. Everything is built for universal accessibility and compatibility with common internet access software and devices.
7) AnyMeeting. You might not think that free web conferencing is unique. And you would be right. Many vendors offer a free product level that supports small web meetings of two or three participants. But only AnyMeeting lets you run an entire public webinar (including registration) with audience sizes of 200 people for free. It is supported by running display ads inside the web conferencing console. Of course there is a premium offering available if you don’t want the ads, but being able to hold a serious webinar of that size without spending a dime is unique, so they get the nod.
This is getting long and unwieldy, so let’s stop at seven. If you are a web conferencing vendor feeling hurt and upset that I didn’t mention a unique feature of your own, please email me. I’ll be happy to add more web conferencing highlights in a follow up post. If you are a competing vendor offering the same functionality I mentioned in this post as unique to someone else, let me know about that as well.