I was very excited by the demos of Google Wave last September and waited patiently for an invitation, one finally furnished by my brother. After a few hours of playing with it I set it aside and although I thought it might be useful for a couple of projects I was working on, I couldn’t really find an immediate use for it.
So at the start of the year I when I was approached by my old driving instructor to re-vitalise her website and later her brand I was finally given the opportunity to try out Google Wave in a real life situation. So I sent her an invite and began to discuss the project with her using Google Wave.
I was very surprised how quickly she adapted to using the Wave, I think it was largely the familiarity that using Facebook Chat had given her with IM clients, only this time she was most impressed with the ability to see what I was typing as I typed (even me correcting spelling mistakes).
For the first couple of weeks of the project – the most important weeks – we went back and forth across a couple of waves, one dedicated to each aspect of the project. I was able to show her screenshots of proposed designs and get immediate feedback, and post alterations we discussed.
Both of us were able to come back to the wave and check for updates and more importantly instead of our discussion being fragmented across multiple emails it was all kept in a single organised place. From a working perspective this made the design and approval process much easier.
In a matter of days we had her new website up and running. After this our use of Google Wave tailed off, probably due to the lack of effective notifications to email meaning once the project tailed off its initial pace she simply forgot to login and check and we defaulted back to emails and telephone calls.
There were a few other drawbacks: the uploading of images was not always successful and more than once I had to resort to email; the adding of comments did not always allow one to easily reply to a comment if it is the last in the list, rather than add a new comment.
Overall for very beta software it performed well for the purpose of managing the project. It is clear however that it needs significant improvement before it makes it way into usage by the general population. It could also do with being improved more quickly that it currently seems to be.
If you’d like to check out the product of our collaboration take a look here:
Oh and if you’d like an invite to the wave party I still have some so drop me a note in the comments.