DIY Tools for Creating Smartphone-Friendly Websites
BY John Brandon
Tech Trends columnist John Brandon reviews DudaMobile and FiddleFly, two services that convert regular websites to mobile sites that work on most smartphones.
One of my friends runs a flooring business. He's proud of his company's website, which looks good and is easy to use. But visit the site on a smartphone browser, and it's a mess: There is too much text, the videos don't play, and it's painfully difficult to navigate. Two new DIY services, DudaMobile and FiddleFly, promise to solve this problem by converting regular websites into mobile sites that work on most smartphones. I gave them a try, using my friend's site as a test case.
To get started on DudaMobile, I entered the URL for the flooring website and clicked Make My Site Mobile. Dozens of templates popped up, in a wide range of colors and styles. I chose a simple silver and black design. Within seconds, DudaMobile imported all the content from the existing site, including graphics, text, and links, and arranged it in a virtual smartphone screen.
Next, I used a step-by-step wizard to customize the site, uploading a company logo and removing some unnecessary links. I also added a map and a link to directions, along with a click-to-call button for contacting the business. Then, the IT guy at the flooring company added a code to the main site to redirect it to the mobile one. All told, it took about 10 minutes to create a mobile site with dozens of pages. Not bad, especially given the price: DudaMobile's basic service, which lets you create a 10-page website with social networking links and a button that allows users to bookmark your page, is free. Or, you can pay $9 a month for a site with unlimited pages and premium features, including a map. Another plus? The service updates your mobile site whenever you make changes to your main site.
The other tool I tried, FiddleFly, charges $588 for a five-page mobile site, plus $180 a year for hosting and maintenance. It was trickier to use, but it offers more design options. After a quick sign-up, a screen appeared with about 100 polished-looking layouts. I selected one with dog-eared buttons. The tool doesn't automatically pull in content, so I copied and pasted links and text from the flooring site and uploaded photos. Then, I added links to the company's Facebook and Twitter accounts and a form users could submit to receive a $50 discount. I also added a YouTube video about installing floors. The process took about an hour, and the five-page site was more streamlined and polished looking than the one I created using DudaMobile. One gripe: Unlike Duda, FiddleFly does not update your mobile site automatically.
My friend found both sites impressive. He thought FiddleFly's was sleeker, but DudaMobile's lower price won him over in the end. My verdict? If you want to create a professional-looking mobile site for your business, these DIY tools are worth checking out.