10 Exciting Changes to WixMobile Coming Soon!

create a mobile website

WixMobile has been in alpha for a while now, offering a free mobile website with a sound foundation of features, but soon it will be ready for the next stage. Our designers and developers are busy bees, and in the next couple of months you can expect to see several additions to WixMobile, including:

  • More templates
  • More menu styles and options
  • More fonts
  • Multi-Language support
  • Self managed SEO description and keywords

There are a number of features that will be added to greatly enhance your mobile web designs and improve user experience. Let’s take a look at each one and how it can benefit your mobile website.

Photo Galleries

mobile galleries

WixMobile already comes with a standard gallery and single image feature, both capable of dynamic sizing depending on the screen size or orientation. More photo galleries mean a wider variety of layouts, styles and behaviors for featuring your photos or portfolio, each optimized for touch and the mobile experience.

Video Galleries

mobile video galleries

The world of mobile web design has struggled with video support for some years, due to constraints with plugin-based technologies such as Flash and Quicktime. The demand has grown to such a point today that popular services like YouTube, Ustream and Vimeo are rapidly moving towards HTML5 video, which is faster and more compatible with mobile browsers and devices.

Video galleries will allow you to feature one or several videos that resize to fit your device screen. Because mobile devices have an ever-decreasing tolerance for Flash and Quicktime, it is best to use a service that offers HTML5 video, or to host your own. You can learn more about video for mobile here.

Music Galleries

What is a mobile band or artist website without streaming music? As I pointed out in last weeks post, one of the first things visitors are looking for on a music-related mobile website is a way to listen or download music. Sound that is optimized for mobile is critical, as linking directly to files or streaming them through a plugin-based player are not only intensive on the device and WiFi bandwidth, but prone to unpredictable results depending on the user’s browser and device capabilities.

With a music gallery, you will be able to upload songs and samples and present them in a visually appealing way that your visitors can tap to hear, guaranteed to work beautifully with iPhones, iPads, Adroids and other modern mobile devices.

Rich Text Editor

Bringing the power of rich-text editing to your mobile pages allows you to take advantage of a larger font selection, colors, styles and layout of your content. The text editor enables you to add headings and text to different sections of your page, expanding the possibilities of what you can do with your page elements.

mCommerce

The most exciting feature coming to WixMobile is mCommerce. For the first time, you will be able to build a powerful and lightweight mobile shop to compliment your main page, offering the same stability, security and user experience as full eCommerce websites. Like the eCommerce shop available in the website builder, mCommerce will guide you through adding images, product descriptions and prices, connecting each with your desired payment method.

Mobile commerce is designed not just for the scale of a mobile device, but to accomodate how mobile devices are used. You can expect form fields and interface elements to respond to touch for optimal user experience and a quick, easy checkout.

Learn more about what’s in store for Wix on the Coming Soon To Wix page.

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Happy birthday Amazon’s Appstore of Android

Forget snazzy mobile sites; last week was all about mobile apps.

The Amazon Appstore for Android turned one. To mark the occasion, Amazon is holding a week-long sale on its most popular apps.

amazon android apps

The company revealed key growth figures over the past 12 months. In just a year, its app selection grew from 4,000 to more than 31,000.

The Amazon sale, which runs to March 21, includes hefty discounts on popular games and apps like Fruit Ninja, Wolfram Alpha, Splashtop Remote Desktop, Dr. Seuss’s The Shape of Me and Other Stuff, TuneIn Radio Pro, TETRIS, PAC-MAN, The Lost City, MONOPOLY, AccuWeather Platinum and Jamie Oliver’s 20 Minute Meals.

In addition to the app savings, Amazon is running a contest to give away a Kindle Fire to eight winners.

Aaron Rubenson, director of Amazon Appstore for Android, said: “Customers have used the Amazon Appstore to test drive and buy millions of apps and games for their Kindle Fire and other Android devices in the first year alone.”

“To thank customers for shopping with us, we worked closely with our developers to offer special discounts on some of the most popular apps all week long.”

PopCap Games director of Global Mobile Business and Products, Andrew Stein, bigged-up the Amazon Appstore’s killer user experience and design.

“It’s been an exciting first year in the Amazon Appstore and we look forward to many more.”

android

“All of our games, including the megahit Plants vs. Zombies, have done extremely well in the Amazon Appstore, for both Kindle Fire and other Android devices.

“It’s a testament to the great Amazon Appstore shopping experience resulting from its user-friendly design and comprehensive catalog.”

Meanwhile, Glu Mobile senior vice president of Sales & Marketing, Adam Flanders, reported 1,000% growth in revenues from Amazon in the four months since the Kindle Fire launched.

“Glu is thrilled with the momentum behind Kindle Fire and the Amazon Appstore’s strong platform, global customer base, and exceptional merchandising capabilities.”

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Mobile Apps for Smartphone Noobs

Smartphone noob? Get introduced to the wonderful world of apps – mini programs on your mobile device that are designed to make your life better.

mobile apps

Last week Apple announced that over 25 billion apps have been downloaded onto iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices. That’s a heck of a lot of downloads.

The app industry has officially exploded to exponential heights. The phrase “There’s an app for that” is beyond tired. Yet, there are still quite a few of us latecomers who still haven’t grasped the meaning of an “app”, or who resist the urge to find out. Believe it or not, some people still aren’t using smartphones! (We don’t know anyone like that.)

If you happen to be one of the last humans on earth to join the smartphone crowd, here’s a few of our old favorites to ease your way in to using apps:

Facebook
facebook mobile app
The neat thing about social media apps is they eliminate the middle man: browsers. You just click the app you want to use, and presto – you’re inside it. Just instant, easy access to the social web. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all the popular social networks offer totally free apps designed to simplify the user experience.

 WhatsApp
whatsapp mobile app
Communicate with other smartphone owners for absolutely no cost. Download WhatsApp and send free messages across any cellular network.  Skype and Viber let you place phone calls to other users with the same app, totally free. Call internationally and enjoy crystal-clear reception with friends, colleagues, prank phone calls – whoever. The lines of communication are officially open.

 Emoji 
emoji mobile app
An emoticon is worth a thousand words. Free apps like Emoji let you add a dash of character to texts, chats and e-mails. Add a cute smiley face to texts or talk solely through images.

Instagram
instagram mobile app
Photography lovers squeal with delight over Instagram. Become a digital artist instantly with just a snap and a tap. Take a picture, adjust it with cool effects and filters, and share it online for the world to see.

Zite
zite mobile app
Your own customized newspaper. Zite is the most convenient way to stay up to date on just the topics you are interested in. It pulls stories from magazines, blogs and websites you love so you don’t have to skim through any boring junk. The more you use it, the better it understands your interests, the juicier the content becomes. Read about other customized mobile magazines and take your pick.

TeuxDeux
teuxdeux mobile app
Too many things on your mind? Throw them all onto this neat app designed specifically to be as clean and effortless as possible. Just list the things you have to do, and click to cross them out as they’re done.

Games, Games, Games
angrybirds mobile app

Many people scoff at the concept of game apps. Yet may of those same people have simply never tried Angry Birds, Words with Friends or Fruit Ninja. Tons of these fun guys are free, others offer premium versions to eliminate ads. We love the games that let you play with friends. It’s a great way to pass the time while still maintaining something that resembles real human interaction.

Lesson? When it comes to apps – don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Dive in with one of these crowd-pleasers. You won’t remember what life was like beforehand.

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Mobile Site of the Week – Luminous Locks

Each week, we feature an inspiring mobile website made with WixMobile’s free mobile website builder.

Want your Wix site to be considered for the Mobile Site of the Week? Leave us a comment with your URL!

This Week’s Mobile Site:

mobile site of the week - luminous locks

Luminous Locks

A wild print and chic styling give this mobile website a professional edge that looks great on any mobile device. A luxury beauty supplier, Luminous Locks started with a minimal template and used the website builder’s Appearance editor to customize the background, colors, button transparency and header for a sleek, sexy look. The cat print provides a perfect backdrop for the website’s gallery, which showcases bright, professional photographs of models and products. Visitors may tap a thumbnail to view images in full size, and swipe to view the entire gallery as a full-screen slideshow. A guide is available from the main menu, offering tips and advice on using the products, and is perfect for customers in need of quick information while travelling or away from a desktop computer. Prices are kept updated to help drive sales, and three easy means of contact linked from the homepage using the Link widget, one of many features you’ll find in the mobile website builder to help build your own mobile app!

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Time for bands to go mobile

America’s annual SXSW event has become *the* place for some 2,000 bands to woo music label reps and fans alike with their smooth tunes.

While each band plays an impressive four shows, mobile agency ShareSquare asked the nerdy question: how many have mobile sites to leverage the new-found exposure?

ShareSquare tracked down over 1,700 band websites of acts featuring at this year’s SXSW to establish how many were ready and raring for mobile traffic.

The results were more 0.2 than 2.0. Many band websites failed to synch with their social networking accounts, while the truly dreadful used programming languages and framesets guaranteed to crash the modern mobile browser.

And the highlights don’t end there:

  • One third of sites perused used Flash, which is widely poo-poohed by mobiles, including the iPhone.
  • 90% of sites failed to detect or recognize mobile browsers.
  • Only 29% of sites featured a Facebook ‘like’ button; only 12% boasted a Twitter ‘follow’ widget. New kid on the block, Google+, featured on just 6% of band sites.
  • The most prevalent player was SoundCloud, followed by YouTube, Vimeo, bandcamp, and jPlayer.
  • In a survey, the following user experience gripes were most common:
  • 33% said ‘Text difficult to read without zooming’
  • 31% said ‘Video content broken or unavailable’
  • 28% said ‘Buttons and links to small to click’
  • 20% said ‘Streaming music broken or unavailable’
  • 15% said ‘Hard to find recent news or event info’
  • Think a band website that doesn’t offer downloadable music or content is missing a trick? 25% of survey participants agreed. Meanwhile, 21% bemoaned the absence of online ticket and merchandise purchasing.

ShareSquare concluded that a whopping 91% of ban websites “just kinda suck on mobile”.

band website sxsw 2012

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5 Mobile Website Tips for Bands from SXSW 2012

bad band mobile vs goood band mobile

SXSW is currently in full swing in North America, where thousands of creative minds and industry professionals gather to teach, promote and exchange ideas. Mashable recently reported on the troves of unsigned bands showing up in hopes of grabbing the attention of a major label rep, and just how unfortunately unprepared they were in the marketing materials department.

If you have a band or are a music fan, you know how important it is to have an outlet for news and new material. Building a fanbase is, or should be, the number one goal of any band today. Without it, there is no chance of getting anywhere, as recording labels are looking for investments with a proven track record. Naturally, all bands have a website or Facebook page. Right?

What some initial research found might shock you. Out of 1700 band websites analyzed for usability and mobility this week at SXSW, only 9% met the very reasonable standards set forth by SquareSquare, the design agency conducting the survey. Here are five tips for getting more notice and increasing your fan engagement, based on the findings from this survey.

#1 Mobilize Your Band Site
Only one out of ten sites analyzed were mobile optimized in any way. The survey looked for mobile device detection, adaptive or fluid layouts, or mobile websites, but were sorely disappointed. We have a lot of convincing reasons why you need a mobile website here at WixMobile, so I won’t re-hash it now, but the fact remains that a mobile website is your first step to reaching fans and industry pros and showing them you understand the needs of a quickly expanding market. To see how your current website fares on mobile, check out Google’s GoMo tester.

Poor mobile compatibility resulted in 33% of the surveyed sites having completely unreadable text, and 28% having buttons or links that were too small to click. When your aim is getting sign-ups and selling merchandise, this is a no-win!

#2 Link Your Social Networks
Before you can display a link on your site, you must actually have at least one or two active social media profiles. Social media is the lifeblood of promoting yourself on the internet, so if you have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or a music network such as Last.fm, make sure it is linked on your website and your mobile site.

When working with a mobile site, you’ll get bonus points for linking to the mobile versions of these profiles to ensure a smooth experience for your visitors.

#3 Use Mobile-Friendly Multi-Media
By now, most mobile device owners are aware of the compatibility issues with Flash, but one-third of the sites surveyed relied on Flash content that resulted in a broken or unavailable website for mobile visitors. Even if your entire website is not designed in Flash, you must be mindful when including music and video players that use Flash content. 33% of sites with multi-media had unplayable video content, and 28% had broken streaming audio. 25% didn’t offer music downloads or audio at all.

Make sure you have a means for fans and labels to hear your music on your websites. This survey found Soundcloud to be the most popular service, offering several HTML5 widgets that can be added to your website. Vimeo and YouTube are popular too, but you must be sure to enable HTML5 video on your account to ensure your cotent will play on most mobile devices.

#4 Invite Your Fans to Support You
Even if it’s just a link to a record shop, give your fans a way to buy tickets to your shows. Your merchandise is also your meal ticket, so make it a part of your website either through a simple shopping cart solution or a link to a partner service where your merch is sold. Of the survey respondents, 21% were disappointed that they couldn’t buy tickets or shirts, 25% that they couldn’t download music (free or purchased) and 29% that there was no email list or sign-up in exchange for exclusive content.

#5 Keep It Updated
Your website, and its mobile counterpart, are the central hub of your band’s online existence. Don’t let it fall to the wayside because you are too busy or focusing too much on social networks. Consider integrating your social networks into your webiste with RSS feeds, or use your website to post content to your social networks to cut down on time and effort. If you don’t want to use RSS feeds on your mobile website, add a link to the best place to get updates and event information such as your Facebook calendar or Last.fm page.

Conclusion
The 9% of sites that made the grade for SXSW made sure to offer a mobile-friendly content strategy with touch-driven navigation, and had the above basics covered. The other 91% were in for a high number of visitors skipping over them in favor of bands with a good mobile presence as they walked around the convention with their mobile devices, leading to missed opportunities and a lot of wasted effort.

Avoid this scenario and get started on mobile right now. Here are some recommended resources to help:

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Instagram hits 27 million registered users

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom has revealed to an audience at SXSW that the photo-sharing mobile app recently passed a whopping 27 million registered users.

While Systrom was coy about daily active users, he did say: “It’s Facebook-level engagement that we’re seeing.”

Instagram boasts features that aren’t available outside of the native app environment, such as on mobile websites. The company has effectively stitched up photo sharing on Apple’s iOS, and now it’s eyeballing Android.

“In some ways, [the Android app is] better than our iOS app. It’s crazy,” he told the captive crowd.

Folks will have to take his word for it – for the time being, at least. Systrom wouldn’t be pinned down on when a full demo will become available.

So, why the long wait to launch Instagram on the world’s most popular smartphone OS?

instagram mobile

“I don’t think it took us so long. We just had priorities.”

“Had we tried to be both on Android and iPhone at the same time, it would’ve been tough to innovate in the way that we have.”

Despite Instagram’s popularity, there’s still no word on how the company will monetize its product. It currently doesn’t utilize advertising or in-app purchases.

All that Systrom would say on the subject was: “Is there something in there we could do to make it a multi-billion dollar business? I think we can figure out something along the way.”

“We have a visual platform and advertisers like visual mediums. They like TV and magazines, but attention is moving online and they want to switch.”

mobile websites

Systrom was similarly tight lipped about rumors that the company is currently raising $42 million for a valuation of $500 million. Instagram previously pocketed a cool $7 million in a 2010 Series A round.

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Mobile site of the Week – AR Skies

Each week, we feature an inspiring mobile website made with WixMobile’s free mobile website builder.

Want your Wix site to be considered for the Mobile Site of the Week? Leave us a comment with your URL!

This Week’s Mobile Site:

AR Skies

AR Skies

Other than having one of the coolest jobs on Planet Earth,  astrophotographer Adrian Richardson is a savvy web-mistress, using her mobile site to share her breathtaking images and offer friends, family and colleagues a quick way to get in touch from anywhere. She used the mobile website builder to create a simple, space-age look by uploading one of her photos as a custom background, and styling her buttons and icons in clean, Enterprise white. Gallery templates display her photos in responsive columns which dynamically fit any screen size, from iPhone to tablet. Tapping a thumbnail opens an “elastic” image, which fits the screen in higher definition and responds to both landscape and portrait orientations for optimal viewing. The main page features Call and Email links which take advantage of your device’s communication and inbox settings for instant contact. If you want to know where Adrian is at anytime, you can check the Google Map for her location.

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Google’s MWC prediction: an Android in every pocket

Last week saw big-name mobile geeks converge on Barcelona for the annual Mobile World Congress.

mobile websites

Google executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, gave the keynote presentation at the event, outlining his vision of an “ultra connected” future.

“We need to be realists about technology.”

Unsurprisingly, Schmidt saw the smartphone giant playing a key role. “If Google gets it right, there will be an Android in every pocket.”

While at first glance the claim may seem bolshie, the numbers suggest otherwise. Android is currently seeing 850,000 activations per day, while a cool 300 million devices have been activated to date – double the figure just six months ago.

To maintain the growth, Schmidt said: “We’ll need to produce more people soon.” Is there an app for that?

The exec said, of the 5 million handsets currently in consumers’ hot little hands, only 2 million are smartphones – the other 3 million are feature phones minus mobile internet.

android mobile

That means there’s still plenty of room for growth. Schmidt championed baby steps, stating: “Connectivity, even modest amounts, changes lives.”

“Anything that gets people more connected is good.”

Google sees the shift from feature phone to smartphone ramping up as handset prices continue to fall.

“Many of our partners are working on phones in the $100-$150 range,” Schmidt said.

“The ultimate goal is a $70 device.”

Schmidt acknowledged that it hasn’t all been roses for the world’s leading smartphone OS. Due to its open source ethos, multiple versions of Android are currently on the market, some of which still don’t support Android Market, maps, or the all-important mobile advertising.

Unsurprisingly the exec downplayed the fragmentation dilemma.

“This is completely allowed by open source, and we understood that this stuff would happen.”

Schmidt bigged up the latest version of the Android OS, tastily titled Ice Cream Sandwich.

“It’s huge,” he said. “There’s nothing of that scale on the market today.”

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Mobile Tips for Tourism

mobile travel

Imagine this scenario – you’re sitting at home watching TV or browsing the web when you come across an ad, blog post or photo of a gorgeous tourist destination. Skimming through the information reveals that it is both inexpensive to visit, and there are promotions available for local attractions via mobile coupons, or by sending an SMS to a special mobile shortcode. A few months pass and find you having lunch or dinner with your significant other, at which point the conversation turns to vacation. You remember the page you had seen and pull it up on your mobile. Because you were able to share this information with your S.O. at an optimal moment, the deal was sealed and you’re vacation plans set in motion.

This scenario is happening all the time around the world, and is the starting point for businesses, agencies or home-owners to capture the attention of the travel-minded mobile user. After all, mobile and travel are a match made in heaven. Smart mobile website owners  will also attempt to cater to tourists and local visitors. By the time you reach your destination, your mobile device becomes your link to the locale – helping you book last-minute activities, find good restaurants and get deals on accomodations and rentals.

mobile tourism analytics

According to recent research done by Google, out of all the travel-related activities done using mobile devices, for those that travel for personal reasons, 38% have downloaded a travel-related application onto their phone. But what’s more remarkable is that 61% of the respondents said that they use their mobile device to research an upcoming trip.

Mobile expert Stephanie Rieger offers a modest amount of sage advice and insightful statistics for businesses located in tourist-heavy areas in her presentation “The Power of Mobile Web for Tourism,” which  aims to inspire you to focus your mobile website and mobile marketing offerings on attracting the tourism market, and utilizing their mobile habits to help promote your business even further.

Below are a few points for how to make sure your mobile website is primed for tourism:

  1. Keep things simple – Mobile travelers are often connecting from unreliable public or satellite wi-fi and do not have a lot of bandwith for downloading large images, maps or applications. You may be able to reduce some of your mobile website’s bulk by taking advantage of optimized services such as Google Maps, TripAdvisor and others offering free mobile add-ons.
  2. Use location-based services. Interactive maps, store locators and clear directions help travelers find you easier. Seek out popular hotspots near you such as car rentals, cafes, hotels and attractions to help provide context, or offer directions from multiple locations to your business.
  3. Use click-to-call. Mobile visitors would much rather tap a button to call, email or SMS you than have to memorize a number, write it down or copy/paste.
  4. Consider working out partner deals with other businesses nearby. If you own a boutique near a cafe, you might offer a special discount to cafe goers in exchange for advertising or vice versa.
  5. Provide free wi-fi. Nothing attracts mobile travelers like a good wi-fi connection. If you have seating or an outdoor area, you will find that most visitors will feel obligated to pay for their time through making a small purchase.

Targeting the Right Visitors
Want some other juicy facts on the power of mobile in tourism? Last summer, TripAdvisor published a new survey of more than 1,000 U.S. vacationers, which revealed these compelling tidbits of how mobiles were used while travelling:

  • 52% researched restaurants from their mobile device
  • 46% read about destinations
  • 45% read traveler reviews
  • 42% booked or researched accommodations
  • 34% booked or researched flights

These results tell us that mobile devices are important to local businesses in well-traveled areas, as well as the traveler. Through careful planning of mobile website content, you can easily tap into this constantly flowing stream of interest to grow your business or community.

Website analytics offer invaluable information about your website traffic, but can fall short if they aren’t fine-tuned enough. Make sure you not only have analytics actively tracking your website visitor activity, but also capturing details such as where they are coming from and the kind of browser or device they are using.

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