A week or two ago I received an email via my contact page from the CEO of WebNotes wondering if I would be willing to take a look at his product, which is currently in beta. I said absolutely, as after taking a quick look at the companies page I was really interested in the idea. So after a few emails were exchanged I was the newest member in the WebNotes private beta, and after using it for awhile I have to say, I am impressed.
What is WebNotes?
WebNotes is a web application that allows you to make virtual sticky notes or highlight text on any webpage and then share your notes with anybody you'd like by either sending an email or giving them a link. This is such a simple idea, but it is one that apparently no one has ever thought of before. And I'm sure the technology behind this simple idea is much more complex, but from the user (my) perspective it is absolutely dead simple to use. Read on for a full review...
How to use WebNotes
WebNotes is extremely easy to use. Once I had my beta invite I just went to the site and entered in my email and password, the site then directed me to "install" WebNotes by bookmarking a link.
Once I had that link bookmarked I simply had to click it on any page that I wanted to highlight or add notes to. After clicking the link a WebNotes bar shows up at the top of the page that gives you the tools to edit the page.
Clicking on the "Sticky Note" button brings up a note that you can put anywhere on the page and enter in whatever text you want.
If you would rather highlight some text that you find important, just click on the "Highlighter" button and then drag your mouse across said text.
Once you have added all the highlighting and notes you want you can click the "Share this page" button and either send an email or get a direct link. From what I gather the WebNotes server takes a snapshot of the page and saves it, so that your link will be good for as long as WebNotes stays around. The person you send the link to does not have to be a member of WebNotes to see your changes.
This is what your page looks like to whoever you decide to share it with.
As you can see, the whole process is dead simple. Ease of use was clearly one of the biggest design goals by Ryan and his team, and it shows. This is such a great idea, and one that just about everybody online could make use of. But more important than just a great idea, it has been implemented extremely well. One thing I didn't go over, is that you can categorize all of your pages into any number of folders, making it extremely simple to become a great bookmarking tool with the added benefit of saving all your notes. I used to use Delicious quite a bit, but now that I have WebNotes I probably won't be using it again. I can do a lot more with WebNotes and the social aspect of Delicious was never that big of a deal to me.
Not sure what the business model would be here, most likely get a lot of users and get bought out by (Insert Big Web Company Here). They could of course have advertising in the toolbar, or charge more for added features, like perhaps colloborative editing which is something I would love to see. I don't really want to get caught up in stuff like this though, as Ryan has created a great product that I love using.
The possible uses of WebNotes are really endless, so I encourage you to try it out and let me know what you think in the comments! WebNotes is currently in a closed beta, but Ryan was gracious enough to give me a 25 beta invites, so if you want 'em leave a comment with your email address or send me an email directly from the contact page. First come first serve!