My search for a Paperless Business Card

// October 9th, 2009 // Collaboration, Featured, IT Professionalism, Web 2.0

I remember, somewhat fondly, my first PDA (the original Palm). It had an Infrared port that allowed you to “beam” your business card to another similarly equipped Palm devices. I remember thinking, this is great, this will spell the end of paper business cards. Well, too many years later, we are still a drift in a sea of paper business cards.

OK, my Palm example was fraught with problems. First you had to find someone with a an IR enabled Palm, then they had to have the IR enabled, they had to have pre-setup their business card in their contacts, and then you had to get them physically pretty close to make it work. I quickly abandoned my use of beaming business card and went back to the old school paper cards.

Well, the other day I said to myself, surely there has got to be some better options available today, and so I went on the hunt for a simple, yet easily distributable, virtual (paperless) business card.

My criteria was simple, what I wanted was:

  1. Need to be able to store my particulars (for free)… duh
  2. Need to easily be able to share it with people
  3. Would be nice if the recipient didn;t have to manually re-enter my data
  4. Was cool enough that those I gave it to might be interested in trying themselves
  5. Elegant

Of all the options out there, here are the ones I tested (in no particular order):

  • is trying to be the of the virtual business card world. Here is a link to my business card. Although the interface is slick and I am happy with the appearance of the final product, it took me quite a bit of time fiddling with the settings to make it all fit within the displayed card (initially, it ran over and looked like crap). They also don’t have a field for your Title, although they do have the ability to add your own fields. In the end, to make it look nice, I ended up having to put my title and company name within the address box, which of course makes the download able Vcard useless for someone trying to load my info into their contacts automagically.
    Rating: Doesn’t fit the bill (or the Bill for that matter).
  • DUB
    This was one of the easiest to setup and worked as advertised. However, there is no way to share this card in a URL. You need to send an Email, or use a downloadable Blackberry app to it to your recipient. When your new contact gets the link, it asks them to sign up to DUB in order to store your info in their contact list. It’s too bad, because if they had my card URLable, I probably would have liked this the best.
    Rating: Fail…. don’t force the people I send it to, to sign up for the service!
  • Hoocard
    This was by far the coolest bizcard setup I tried, but they fall short in a couple of areas. Most notably, it doesn’t appear to be supported by anyone. Following their Contact link, took me to a page that gave me another link to go to, which when I went there, told me they had merged with someone else. In the end it was just too difficult to find an email address where I could send a simple question.
    Having said that, one of the cool things about Hoocard is that you can set up multiple business cards (ie: one business and one personal) and send which ever one is situationally appropriate. They have an interesting delivery mechansim as well. They give you a unique email address for each card you setup. To send someone your info, you address an Email to that unique hoocard email address, and enter the recipients email address in the subject line, and hit send. The recipient receives an email which contains the graphical representation of my business card, and an attached Vcard so they can load it into their contacts.
    No where on the site does it show you a direct URL to your card, but I managed to figure it out. Here is a link to my business Hoocard and my personal Hoocard.
    Rating: Does the job, I like the multiple card options, but I don’t like having to hunt for the URL
  • BusinessCard2
  • BusinessCard2 is by far the most professional of the group and is very simple and easy to use. Although they lack the fancy “send” options of some other players, it sets up an easily rememberable URL and does have the option to email the link to your intended recipient. Unfortunately, it only allows you one email address per profile/card, and I originally used my personal email, but entered my company info. So now I have 2 cards, one for work and one personal.. Here is personal BusinessCard2 card and here is my work one.
    After all my testing, this is the one I’ve landed on as my default online business card. It was easy to setup and is easily distributable. Just send your intended recipient the URL and they can go to the site and view your card as well as download a Vcard. The one thing I’d like to see them change though would be to send the actual Vcard with the email that contains the link, so save the recipient the extra step.
    Rating: Best of the lot
  • Do it yourself option
    Just for fun, I tried a little do it yourself project. I found a cool looking WordPress theme that did one thing and one thing only…. present your info in a cool way. Here is a link to my DIY Card.
    Although somewhat cool, it has the drawback of not having a downloadable Vcard. I suppose I could build one and insert a link, but…. meh…. I’lll stick with BusinessCard2 for now.
    Rating: Cool now that I have done it, but too much work if you are looking to do it yourself.

So, from this point forward, I will be sending people my paperless card rather than giving them a real one.

2 Responses to “My search for a Paperless Business Card”

  1. […] post:  My search for a Paperless Business Card Related […]

  2. Lief Larson says:

    Noted. We will discuss this at our feature discussion next Tuesday. Thank you.

    – Lief

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