Monday, December 20, 2010

8 Tools For Easily Creating a Mobile Version of Your Website

As an entrepreneur, you’re most likely always on the lookout for new developments. Perhaps your customers are reporting that your site needs a mobile version so that they can visit it while they’re on the go, or maybe you recently saw a competitor’s site through your mobile device; it looked slick, and now you’re feeling outclassed.

The mobile web is burgeoning. Usage of iOS, the operating system for Apple mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad, almost doubled in just seven months (from March 2010 to October 2010), according to Netmarketshare. This is an indicator of just how many people are browsing websites, more and more, through their mobile devices instead of their computers.

Small businesses should be on top of this trend. To help out, we’ve compiled a list of easy-to-use tools for creating mobile sites. The tools in this list were purposely chosen for ease of use — that is, they’re all aimed at site owners who don’t have any web development/coding experience. They’re perfect solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses because of their cost effectiveness (and most are even free).

How These Tools Work

Most of the tools below have graphical user interfaces and copy-and-paste code blocks that can be installed on your site quite easily. If you can install a tool like Google Analytics on your site yourself, you’ll be able to use these tools.

These tools work by detecting the user agent of your site visitors, which is just fancy talk for finding out whether a visitor is using a regular web browser or a mobile web browser. If the user agent is a mobile browser, users are redirected to your website’s mobile version. The common practice is to assign the mobile version of your site with a sub-domain as such In this manner, your site traffic is forked into two segments, giving all of your site visitors an optimal browsing experience.

1. Mobify

Mobify allows you to create a mobile version of your website through an intuitive and user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI). Setup is a breeze, and you can have your very own mobile site in minutes.

If you run an e-commerce store, even better! Mobify has the Mobile Commerce platform that’s geared specifically toward e-stores for the mobile web.

Mobify runs on a freemium model, but its free version is very generous and includes the option for a custom domain (such as The paid plans start at $249 per month and include features such as the removal of the Mobify logo on your mobile site, mobile analytics for reporting site traffic stats, and so on.

2. Wirenode

Companies such as Ford, Nokia and Reebok use Wirenode, a mobile website generator that has helped more than 50,000 websites create mobile-device-friendly versions of their sites.

Its free plan has a user-friendly editor for designing your mobile site, free hosting for up to three mobile sites, website statistics reporting, and more. The paid plans start at 15 Euros per month (about $19.80 USD), with upgrades such as support for custom domains and the removal of Wirenode advertisements.

3. Mippin Mobilizer

If you’re strapped for time, Mippin Mobilizer is a no-frills tool that will take you minutes to use. All you have to do is enter your site’s RSS feed URL, configure some options, sign up for an account, install some code on your site, and you’re done! As you set up your mobile site, it has a live preview on the right-hand-side so that you can see the progression of your site’s design as you configure it.

4. Onbile

Onbile promises that you can have a mobile version of your site in five minutes or less. It delivers this promise by giving you an intuitive user interface for constructing your mobile site and a custom-generated script to paste into your index page so that when mobile device users visit your site, they are redirected to the mobile version. You can select one of 13 customizable templates as a starting point for your mobile site design.

5. Winksite

If you’re interested in creating an online community based around your mobile site, check out Winksite, a web app for building a mobile community for your website.

It even generates your very own QR code, a two-dimensional code readable by mobile devices with QR scanners and used to automatically pull up text, photos, videos, music and URLs. There are many ways to use QR codes for small business marketing. You can print your QR code on your business card, print ads and other branding materials, and when mobile users want to visit your mobile site, they just need to use their mobile device cameras to scan the QR code.

If you would like to generate a QR code without having to use Winksite, check out this free web-based tool called QR-Code Generator.

6. MobilePress

Do you use the WordPress publishing platform for your website? If so, you’re in luck because there’s a bevy of plug-and-play WordPress plugins for automatically generating a mobile version of your website. One such plugin is MobilePress, a free WordPress plugin for creating a mobile theme for your WordPress-powered site. Another WordPress plugin to consider is WordPress Mobile Edition.

7. iWebKit

iWebKit is a simple framework for creating your own iPhone/iPod touch apps. It can be used to create an app like Mashable’s iPhone app, for example.

Though iWebKit can be used by anyone, even without knowledge of HTML, it isn’t as user-friendly as the other tools mentioned above and requires that you download and install the app as well as read the user manual. But for a small time investment (no cash needed, the iWebKit framework is free), you can have your very own iPhone app just like the big kids.

8. MoFuse

MoFuse is loaded with a large set of features for building and managing your mobile site. It’s aimed at agencies, news media, and small- and medium-sized businesses. Prices range from $7.95 to $199 per month and include features such as site analytics reporting, support for more than 5,000 different mobile devices, customer support, a QR code manager, and more.

Bonus: Resources for Testing and Evaluation

Once you use one of the tools above and have your very own mobile version of your main site, it’s a good practice to ensure that everything’s in order. Here are additional tools and resources for testing and evaluating your new mobile website.

  • mobiReady – This tool will test your site for dotMobi compliance and W3C mobileOK compliance, sets of mobile website standards that ensure an optimal and accessible mobile-site user experience. It also looks for errors and gives you a user-friendly report of any errors discovered. It’s easy to use — just plug in the URL of your mobile site.
  • W3C mobileOK Checker – W3C has an official tool for checking a mobile site’s “mobile-friendliness”.
  • iPad Peek – Don’t have an iPad? That’s quite alright, you can still see how your mobile site looks through the popular Apple mobile device using this tool that emulates what people see on the iPad.
  • Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 – W3C, the standards body for many of the web’s technologies (such as CSS, HTML and JavaScript), has a document that outlines mobile web best practices. This is aimed at web developers and can be a pretty dry read, but it’s worth a few moments to read and look over it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hotmail Gets Interactive, Runs JavaScript Within E-mails

Windows Live has just announced something new for Hotmail: Interactive e-mail.

The e-mail giant is allowing developers to embed and run JavaScript from within e-mails; this is the natural next step in e-mail’s evolution from plain text to HTML and beyond.

What this means for the average e-mail recipient is that more of the messages they receive will be increasingly up-to-date, and content will be interactive. If the developer sending the e-mail is hip to Hotmail’s changes, you’ll be able to take actions from within the e-mail itself without having to navigate to a slew of other web pages. Basically, the new Hotmail e-mails will look, feel and behave like a web page running within an e-mail.

It’s a cool update, and it also has the potential to keep Hotmail more competitive with Google’s Gmail, which offers users previews of content from Flickr and YouTube within e-mails.

The problem with running JavaScript in e-mails, of course, is security: How can Hotmail protect users from malicious code? Windows Live Active Views is a product aimed at answering this question.

While we’d love to know more about what exactly Active Views is and how it does what it does, all Microsoft has told us so far is that Active Views uses “technology that allows senders to run code securely in their email messages.” That’s a pretty vague statement about a pretty cool feature; we’ll let you know when we learn more.

Orbitz and will be the first two companies to use the new interactive e-mail platform from Hotmail, with LinkedIn and Netflix jumping on the bandwagon soon. Here’s a quick demo of the product:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

10 Chrome Web Apps to Check Out

The Google Chrome Web Store has only been open for a few hours, and already hundreds of apps are available to use.

To be fair, not every app offers a new experience; some are merely bookmarks to existing web apps. There are already a number of apps, however, that really push the boundaries of what we expect from a web app, offering new, optimized experiences and tight browser integration.

The great thing about web apps is that you don’t necessarily have to use Google Chrome to benefit from these great interfaces. Some of the apps do use Chrome-specific optimizations, but most will work identically in Safari or Firefox 4 beta.

Here are 10 Chrome web apps that we think are worth exploring:


Why It's Awesome: SlideRocket is a fantastic web app that lets you create robust, media-rich presentations in your web browser. SlideRocket even has a new HTML5 slide viewer optimized for the iPad.

What makes the Chrome app extra cool is that SlideRocket lets you sign in with your Google or Google Apps account instantly. Plus, the Google connection means that the app can now easily integrate with your Google address book (perfect for sharing a presentation or adding collaborators) and you can access real-time Google feeds to integrate into your slide deck.

Sports Illustrated Snapshot

Why It's Awesome: The Sports Illustrated Snapshot app really showcases just how jaw-dropping high-speed sports photography can be. Every day, new photos are hand-picked and captioned and added to the various channels in the app. Plus, users can purchase access to curated images from the archives or from big events like the Super Bowl.

We love the way the app flows; it would look at home on a tablet.


Why It's Awesome: Sony's web video service offers a great blend of original series, movies, TV shows and shorts. The Crackle Google Chrome app is keyboard friendly and easy to browse, and it offers a really robust lean-back experience. We could easily see this app on a Chrome-enabled set-top box.


Why It's Awesome: Springpad is kind of like a mashup between Evernote and Zootool. You can capture information from various sources for your own personal notebooks, set reminders that can then be tweeted to you and create information or organize data around your Facebook contacts.

The Springpad Chrome app really becomes cool when you use it with the Springpad Chrome extension. Capturing, collating and referencing your information is a snap.

HuffingtonPost NewsGlide

Why It's Awesome: If we were the Huffington Post, we would make the NewsGlide Chrome app our iPad app. It flows well, pulls up content in an attractive way and is easy to navigate.


Why It's Awesome: Clicker's Chrome app is actually optimized for remote controls or keyboards. That makes it a really hot addition to a home media PC. You can easily navigate without using a mouse, search for content and play back your favorite shows from the available sources without missing a beat.

A netbook running Clicker hooked up to an HDTV would kind of be like what Google TV was supposed to be.


Why It's Awesome: TweetDeck has been promising to take an HTML5 approach to its web and mobile apps for quite some time. The Chrome app brings that plan to fruition. Not only can you log in with your existing TweetDeck account, you can also import information from the TweetDeck Air app.

The Chrome app might not replace TweetDeck for diehard users, but think about this: This is portable. Now, if you're on someone else's computer, you can access your TweetDeck columns from within Chrome. Snazzy.

Why It's Awesome: has apps for Adobe Air, Windows 7, iOS and Windows Phone 7 already, but the Chrome web app brings the comic viewing, purchasing and sharing experience to the browser. has lots of deals with some of the top comic book publishers to deliver comics that can be read and synced across your devices. You can also download free comics and comic previews. The Chrome app integrates with the other apps and lets you take advantage of the special Flow view.


Why It's Awesome: We already discussed the MOG app, but we wanted to give it another shout-out for creating an entirely new interface for Chrome or Safari users.

New York Times

Why It's Awesome: Frankly, we wish all newspaper websites looked this good. With keyboard shortcuts, layout choices and support for multi-touch, the New York Times app really manages to create a fantastic web app experience that helps you forget you're in a web browser.