A big asset to any blogger is the ability to stay organized. When you’re following leads on multiple stories, collecting links and doing research, keeping track of it all can mean the difference between being first on a hot scoop or wasting valuable time trying to remember where you wrote down that vital statistic. There have sadly been a couple of times when poor organization has completely changed or killed stories I was working on because thoughts on content direction that I had were misplaced. That’s why I was so excited about Wridea, and online idea management application that launched its version two release last week.
Here at SitePoint we use the Basecamp groupware tool from 37signals, email, instant messaging, and Skype to stay organized and chat with one another about content issues. But on a personal level, I also have text files all over my computer, and scraps of paper all over my desk with story ideas, research and telephone interview notes, and records of who I’ve emailed or talked to and when. Suffice it to say — it’s not a great system.
Wridea is a very simple application that aims to keep your ideas and notes about them in one place. Each idea is added to a page as a large, highly visible text headline, which can be color coded to map to user defined categories. Under each idea is a “details” box — basically a simple text editor onto which you can enter further notes about your idea, and which can be formatted with simple controls like bold, italics, underline, text color, and bulleted lists.
You can create multiple pages of ideas, so that you can group them by subject — i.e., a page for feature ideas for your app, and another page for home improvement ideas for your new condo. Any page can also be shared with friends, who can then comment on your ideas and offer feedback.
Wridea is very simple, and its creators intend that it could be used for live note taking during meetings or at a conference. It does have some drawbacks, though. The first is organization of ideas. Wridea is supposed to help you “organize and improve [your] ideas,” but it is actually rather lacking when it comes to organization. I found that ideas on my pages were listed in a seemingly random way — the third idea I added was listed first, the second was listed third, and the first was listed second. They didn’t appear to be listed alphabetically or by the categories I defined, nor was there any way to reorder them (what if I wanted to list by priority?) or tag them.
The second drawback to Wridea is that for all its simpleness, it can be kind of clunky. Changing or adding a category to an idea, for example, involves clicking on the idea, then clicking the “Select” link, then choosing the category from the “Categories” drop down menu in the top navigation bar, and then deselecting the idea entry. That’s way too many steps.
It would also be great to be able to add sub ideas underneath main ideas on your page that each had their own details box, and it would be helpful to be able to export ideas to other formats (txt, pdf, doc, html, etc.).
In the end, it is hard to see how Wridea is much better than a list and some Writeboards in Basecamp, or a shared document in Google Docs. I like the concept of a super simple shared idea manager, but the current implementation doesn’t differentiate enough from already available tools to make it really worthwhile. There is certainly potential here for a useful application, in my opinion, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark yet.
How do you keep track of your brainstorming sessions? Let us know in the comments.