Today I am taking a closer look at the new Google Groups and dissect some of the recent evolutions of this great free service. Google Groups is a very helpful tool for any business or organization that allows for easy-to-manage discussions online or through email. You can use Google Groups to find groups based on your interests, or to set up a company page for internal or external business communications.
Here's why Google Groups is great:
- Group email function
- Each group gets a personal email. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Post directly to the group homepage by sending a message to the group email address
- Makes connecting and communicating easy
- Forum based communication amongst group members
- Organize all of your discussions with favorites and folders
- Search feature to find the right content quickly within your group page
- Customizable pages
- Customizable layout of pages
- Custom look and graphics
- Make it public or private
- Share with everyone or choose which users you would like to be invited to the page
- Group Marketing
- Use Promotion Box to drive people to your public Google Groups page
- They provide the html code. Simply copy and paste.
- Choose how you want to receive updates for each group
- No Email: read the group on the web
- Abridged Email: one summary email of new activity per day
- Digest Email: get up to 25 full new messages in a single email
- Email: send each message to me as it arrives
As of last week Google Groups has released some fun changes to this service that make the user interface even more intuitive and easy to use. The new interface is much more clean and refined which makes browsing through discussions much simpler. Users now have the ability to drag and drop conversations to make sorting much easier. Google has also integrated keyboard shortcuts into Groups which make navigating and interacting much quicker. Simple hit "?" to pull up the shortcut menu. Spend some time to get to know each other and I guarantee you and the keyboard shortcuts will hit it off!
Another cool feature is the new mobile application that allows users to access their Group information on the go. Check it out by scanning this QR code to download the application straight to your phone now!
In an attempt to minimize clutter on the new Groups pages, Google has decided to remove the options of their Pages and Files features as of January 17th. Google feels its other services such as Google Sites and Google Docs fulfill the same purpose with greater accuracy. Personally, I view this as a step backwards as I found it helpful to have the option of storing everything in one place. Nevertheless, if you do have pages and files loaded up on your Google Groups page they will remain there after the 13th so your work will not be lost, but no further files can be added.
Down the road I would love to see Google Groups continue to improve their user interface as I feel it still has some more changes necessary to make it more astatically pleasing. I would also like to see the option to remove content off the pages. Currently, once you make a post it is there forever, so be careful what you are saying! For now, these new changes are welcomed and seen as a big step in the right direction. I am thrilled with the service and excited to see how it evolves from here.
The new version of Google Groups is available upon request as of 12/7. I expect them to roll it out officially in the next few months. I recently switched over my account and have loved the new changes. Go give it a try and let us know what you think! If you don't like it you can always switch back.