Review Summary

Unique Feature Set But Challenging Pricing Structure for Budget-Conscious Social Networking
Tiered with Free Option
Cost Info: 
Free version is ad supported as well as subgroup and storage space limited. Tiered packages remove ads but are pricey with limited number of users.
Recurring Events, Mobile Access, Full-Featured SubGroups
Price, Non-Intuitive Interface, Limited Layout Customization, Feature-Poor Forums
Editor Rating: 

Originally known as CollectiveX, Groupsite is different from other offerings. While most of the other platforms have a similar vision, focused on social networking, Groupsite is more of a hybrid. I have seen others state that it's a cross between Ning (social networking) and LinkedIn (professional networking). That's fairly accurate, though I'd also add in a dose of GoogleDocs since there is also a focus on collaboration and project completion. To be clear, Groupsite openly admits that it wants to serve the full gamut of users from Social Networking to Social Collaboration including small informal groups to large company-wide Intranets. With a couple of exceptions that may be concerning to some, it does a very good job of what it sets out to do.

Groupsite offers plenty of unique features including separate public and professional user profiles, user objectives and personal networking. Probably most important to our group, it offers a very extensive event/calendar solution including the ability to create recurring events as well as events within each subgroup. If you delve into any level of premium features or plans, you also get their mobile solution, allowing you to access your group via most smart phones. Because it is at least partly targeted to and used by large businesses, there is the promise that Groupsites will be around for a while and able to continue offering less expensive plans.

Groupsites is not without its downsides however, some of which could be deal breakers for many seeking a social networking solution. First, the design and layout is somewhat stagnant. While you can change some colors, inject your own banner and move some of the modules around on the page, that's pretty much it. This might not be as big of an issue if the menu and interface were a bit more intuitive. Instead, you're stuck with Groupsite's idea of logical menu organization. Even the premium package has limitations on how much you can modify it. Things can get especially sticky when you navigate to a SubGroup and now have two identical menus on your screen. You'll get several more features if you delve into the premium plans but, ultimately, it will be very difficult to make your site look much different from anyone else's Groupsite.

Speaking of premium services, because of Groupsites very unique pricing structure, it would be almost impossible to have a successful site without spending some cash. The free offering, for example, does offer unlimited users, but only 250 MB of storage and 5 subgroups. You do have the option of picking up individual premium features for $9 each and chances are you won't be able to create the site you'd like without choosing at least two or three. This may lead you to start looking at some of the premium pricing plans that start at $29/ month. The catch is they are all user limited. The $29 plan only allows for 50 users. It does include all the premium features and removes all third party advertising. Ultimately the pricing plan leaves those looking for an inexpensive social networking platform in a bit of a lurch. Groupsites will likely end up being one of the more expensive plans you might consider. The decision will likely come down to whether the feature set is rich enough to justify the expense and to offset the layout limitations.

Significant Feature Notes

Resources - FAQ, Support Blog

Pricing - Tiered with Free option (storage and subgroup limited; ad supported); you'll likely want at least one of the premium features at $9/ month.

General Use - Very different from other sites so navigation is not initially intuitive.

Admin - Custom profile questions, Most refined permission structure only available with premium (for example, can't restrict calendar event creation without upgrade)

Layout - Customizable colors and movable modules, but menus and general layout framework otherwise stagnant (menus customizable and new page creation available under premium pricing)

Forums - Appears to be only topic level subscription. No threading. No quoting (though you can use some text tools to create italics; not very user friendly).

Events – Strong point. iCal and Outlook Exports, Calendar can be filtered to show all events or just specific group events. Also offers list view. Highly refined recurring events. One sticking point = No apparent way to send email out upon Event creation.

Groups - Interface can be somewhat confusing when in a subgroup. Subgroups do offer all features of the group at large. Can email all subgroup members with a discussion posting. Can be private. Wiki – What? A collaboration site with no Wiki?

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