Vengeo offers ‘Swiss Army knife’ of Web publishing tools

Imagine a tool that lets you create a Web site, post blogs, host online meetings, create online communities, hold e-learning seminars, and conduct online surveys.

A Toronto-based social media company is offering marketing professionals, educators, community groups, small businesses and freelancers just that. Vengeo Inc., an end-to-end, do-it-yourself, e-publishing and online deployment solution, it aims to be everything to everyone.

“It’s Facebook, Google Calendar, Twitter, Blogger, Dropbox, Adobe, an e-mail blast tool, and more rolled into one,” Brian Umali, designer and marketing manager of Vengeo, describes the four-year-old company. Vengeo was featured in one of the sessions during the first day of Social Media Week in Toronto.

Vengeo is basically an online marketing and communication tool. However, the company set up by self-taught software designer Vic Cauchi in 2008 enables businesses and individuals to  do a multitude of things which they would have otherwise required several other products to accomplish or might have hired out to another firm or person. The best thing is that the tool is for free. The company earns through paid subscriptions to upgraded versions of the service.

Users who register for the free version of Vengeo get 4GB of free storage used to create and deploy online free-form e-publications such as flyers, catalogues, brochures, Web sites, newsletters, magazines, online resumes and portfolios. Users can also embed their creations of their own existing Web site.

Users can easily embed their images, text, video, audio, Flash content, slideshows, page details and page links anywhere on the online page. “Users control the whole process and they don’t even need to know PHP, Java, HTML or have expensive and complex design tools,” said Umali.

Just like Facebook but better

Users start by creating a profile page, just as they would on Facebook or MySpace. This becomes the user’s hub for posting content such as: welcome text, banner and logos.

The PiPe (Paperless interactive Publishing editor) tool helps users create their online page where they have access to Web-style menus and navigation tools and use animated images. People can also use the PET (Page Enhanced Templates) to create, edit and embed YouTube videos, Vimeo content, and their own video, audio, text, RSS feeds and social media links to the Web site.

Advance features include a selection of Vengeo communication tools enable users to auto notify subscribers to the site, conduct real-time chat conversations, have access to an interactive calendar and delivers e-forms, surveys and test forms to subscribers.

An email blast tool also allows users to create messages with templates and distribute it to a select group of subscribers. Users get auto notification of bounces and unsubscribes. A tool called PiP Talk also allows subscribers to comment on the user’s content and posts to generate real-time conversation.

Marketing, collaboration and instructional uses

Dawn Boshocff, principal of Toronto-based Bosh New Media Communications, thinks the product is ideal for small public relations firms as well as freelancers, artists and marketing professionals. “It’s a no fuss product that let’s users create attractive Web sites and other publications from a wide range of templates that doesn’t require and tech expertise,” she said.

Once the content is created, users upload their file to a secure and private cloud-based Vengeo account and profile page. The system also assigns a unique Web-link to the publication or publications which the user can simply cut and paste to any Web site, email or social network such as Facebook or an online auction place like eBay.

“Your customer can click on the link and your publication will pop open without the viewer needing to download any software, attachment of plug-in. The content opens up in any browser without any need for redirecting,” said Boshcoff.

Boshcoff use an upgraded version of Vengeo which offers more online storage and features. The account costs around $588/year. “It’s a bargain. Recently, I was able to create by myself, three Web sites for three different clients in three hours. Web designers would have charged anywhere from $500 to $5,000 depending on the size of the project.

The email blast and surveys feature of Vengeo are ideal for marketing purposes, she said.

Boshcoff said Vengeo will also be ideal for the educational or corporate training purposes because if has the ability to scale out and distribute material to multiple subcribers. “The feedback mechanism, the collaboration features and the comments features can easily be adopted for online classroom ruse,” she said.

To date there are about 150 users of Vengeo. Cauchi, the company’s CEO, is currently in talks with officials in El Salvador where the authorities are looking into deploying Vengeo to help school children learn online publishing skills. “Products from companies such as Adobe were just too expensive. Our system is for free,” said Umali.

Nestor ArellanoNestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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