Open APIs are hot. The most successful companies working on the web in any and all industries are building up developer communities that will hitch their wagon to the platform’s already existing architecture. Google Gadgets, Facebook applications, Word Press and Movable Type plug-ins, Salesforce appExchange…you name it. The nonprofit industry is no exception. Just nice to see that we’re coming to the party at around the same time as everyone else for a change.
So back to Kintera Connect. Absolutely the right idea at the right time. But Kintera!?! Ugh. We left Kintera for GetActive in December 2005. Why? Many reasons, the most significant being the horror that was Kintera Sphere (their software platform). Our office manager at the time described it best…like walking through thick mud. It only worked with Internet Explorer on a PC. Even the most simple tasks required multiple clicks all over the interface, especially if you hosted your own site and was only using Sphere to manage messaging, advocacy and donations as we were. Since Kintera incorporated modules they had purchased from other companies, elements were inconsistent between different areas of the platform. Each module was in its own silo, not working well with other modules. It was slow and unwieldy and the documentation was barely useful.
Now I know that was over 18 months ago, and the backend may have changed drastically since then. It begs the question…if Kintera Sphere is worth building on, why doesn’t the company have screenshots or a tour on their site? If it’s there, I couldn’t find it. Convio has a video tour. Salesforce offers a free trial, demo videos and screenshots. What does Kintera tell potential customers on their website? Not much. Lots of business-speak buzz words and testimonials that say nothing. Case studies and lists and lists of features…but absolutely nothing about how usable those features really are. Nothing about how those features work together beyond the CRM. Yes, they have webinars…but I don’t want to sit through a 30 minutes sales pitch. I want to see how functional and flexible the interface is for a small organization like ours without a dedicated IT staff and millions in the bank. Unless they’re only interested in the gigantic NPOs and that’s another story. Not that I’m thinking of leaving Convio/Salesforce at this point. We’re not.
As wonderful as an open API sounds, Kintera doesn’t appear to offer my organization anything compelling. Google and Technorati searches don’t pull up a lot of “I love Kintera” stories that aren’t hosted on Kintera’s site. Not a great sign.