Last weekend, the biggest update in the six-year history of webconferencing-test.com went live. Almost all aspects of our portal have been reworked to enhance the value and the usability of the site:
- Compare Tools Pro now allows visitors to compile a tailored dossier of data from our 30-plus tool tests, offering detailed information on over 80 functions and criteria for all solutions. The service (which is subject to a charge) supports organizations in simplifying and accelerating the expensive and time-consuming process of evaluating web conferencing platforms.
- The new Compare Tools Free option offers initial guidance for those searching for the right software. As the name suggests, this service is free of charge. Portal visitors can select the tools they are interested in and compile a compact, comparative overview of test results for their shortlist. Aggregated results are given for the following categories: functionality, usability, meeting setup, software installation, cost transparency, security, and system requirements.
- What’s more, webconferencing-test.com now includes a guide on how to select the right solution (Evaluation Guide), and new test criteria for video- and audioconferencing functionality. A new, featured ranking offers a quick overview of the videoconferencing functionality of each web conferencing solution.
Why have we re-launched the portal?
When webconferencing-test.com first went live back in 2006, we began by testing the five most popular online meeting tools and presenting the results in a table. Since then, the number of virtual meeting offerings we test has risen to over 30. Our goal was to bring transparency to this market – which means ensuring we consider as many solutions as possible.
As the years went on, our portal was limited by one key factor: Only results for the top five tools were shown in detail, broken down by specific criteria. We just assumed that for the majority of users, complete results for the five best-ranked platforms would be enough. Why should we deal in detail with those that didn’t make it into the top five?
A flood of feedback from portal visitors told us why. As it turns out, there is significant interest in accessing in-depth test results for lower-placed tools, too – for a number of good reasons. Perhaps you have already worked with a certain tool (and would like to see how your experience compares to our findings), or maybe you are looking for very specific functions, which are provided by one of the tools ranked 6th or below (such as web conferencing software for visually impaired users, for example).
Moreover, it has become clear to us over time that it is not just self-employed professionals and smaller companies that use our website as a starting point for selecting a web conferencing platform – many larger organizations do, too. The feedback from these enterprise users can be summarized as follows: our portal saves them the time and effort of identifying all the relevant players and painstakingly compiling the facts and figures for each provider.
But for these larger organizations, too, the fact that detailed results were only given for the top five solutions limited the usefulness of our comparison. In fact, when it comes to enterprise implementations, there are special criteria – that we could not take into account – that often play a key role. For example, companies may wish to shortlist a provider who is already a preferred supplier, or a solution that can be easily integrated into the existing IT infrastructure. Prime examples include IBM (in 11th place at present) and Microsoft (ranked 8th and 17th).
If our analysis of the benefits and limitations of the previous incarnation of webconferencing-test.com stands up, then the introduction of the Compare Tools Pro service should significantly boost the attractiveness of our portal.
But why don’t we offer this enhanced service free of charge? After all, commercial considerations were not our main motivation when we originally launched our portal. There is a simple answer. This is primarily an experiment to find out how willing professional web users are to pay for valuable content on the Internet. Moreover, if the results are positive, we will naturally be glad to recoup some of the considerable ongoing investment we make into conducting and extending our tests.
We hope and believe that we are offering our visitors excellent value for money. Our approach is the opposite of the conventional model for generating revenues with advisory content. IT research and advisory companies such as Gartner exploit their high brand awareness and reputation to sell their research results at a steep price.
Take the following example: Gartner sell its annual “Magic Quadrant for Web Conferencing” report (18 pages) for US $1,995.00. This publication deals with twelve web conferencing providers, without a detailed analysis of the functionality and usability of the solutions. As a niche portal, webconferencing-test.com may not enjoy the same brand awareness, but offers far more detailed content on the facts and features of each web conferencing solution. If you want to buy the test results for all 34 tools we have published information on, it costs just US $69.50 during the introductory period, and US $139 after that. And in reality, the vast majority of visitors pay much less. For example, if you already have a shortlist of four “favorites” and want a quick, fact-based comparison, you can generate this dynamically for just US $9.50.
So you only pay for what you actually need – sounds like a fair deal, doesn’t it? We look forward to seeing whether the 10,000 visitors to our website every month agree. And we would be delighted to hear your feedback on our brand new portal.