The top performers in our review are DudaMobile, the Gold Award winner; goMobi, the Silver Award winner; and Onbile, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a service to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of the 10 best mobile-website builders.
If you are one of the unfortunate few that created a website for desktop use but didn't get a responsive mobile site as part of the package, it's time to remedy that immediately. The Pew Research Center's recent report found that 64 percent of American adults own smartphones, and 10 percent of those smartphone users don't have internet at home. Instead, they only use their mobile devices to browse.
Now, imagine the traffic you're missing out on if you don't have a mobile-friendly site. Granted, any site with a host shows up online, but on smaller screens, your entire site is crammed in to a disproportionate space, making it difficult to navigate. The point is, now is the time to convert your current site to a mobile platform. Responsive mobile-web design is crucial to expanding your business, whether you have created a site for readership or retail purposes.
The companies we evaluated focus on mobile sites of all types. Specifically, we rated the best mobile website builders for mobile blogs, business landing pages and QR code-based marketing sites.
One of the more important reasons a mobile-site builder is necessary is to convert your current site to a mobile platform – one that's responsive on both tablets and smartphones. In our review on website builders, we specifically evaluated products that cater to desktop domains but also have the ability to create mobile sites. For those potential customers who want an all-in-one site bundle, using one of these services allows you to closely match your mobile view to your desktop site.
Another major reason to have a mobile site is to boost online sales for customers that only search using their phones. Business News Daily provides an overview of eCommerce software and which industries cater to mobile eCommerce. This site reviews eCommerce and shopping cart software that use specific applications to enhance purchases made from mobile devices. For more information about this topic, check out our articles about mobile website design.
During our evaluation of mobile-site builders, we soon realized that these applications are built with two distinct groups of people in mind. Members of the first group pay a monthly cost to export their desktop URLs in to a responsive editor. The second group wants a sole mobile site meant specifically for marketing purposes. This audience has a constant eye on the market and need complete control of their concise mobile view. We took both avenues in our testing.
With the services that allowed us to, we took an existing URL that doesn't currently have a mobile site and converted it to a responsive mobile website. This process is mostly automatic. It takes the essential content from a current desktop site and formats it in to a small number of columns. The resulting layout matches the look of the original desktop site but makes it readable on phones or tablets. Testing with that simplicity in mind allowed us to create a mobile site that consistently matches any changes made on the desktop URL.
For the builders that only allowed us to create a marketing site from scratch, we built a landing page with the intent of reflecting the appearance of the desktop URL mentioned above. With these mobile-web designers, we added contact pages, a map and forms. We also created pages designed for coupons and specials.
Usability: The Most Important Factor
Eight out of 10 of the services on our lineup focus on responsive importing. That focus is important because, at least initially, you should be able to simply insert your domain name into a builder and get a framework. The service then grabs the content, code, color and basic theme to create a simple one-column structure. DudaMobile, for example, shows you the mobile screen on the side of the dashboard and makes the creation options so easy to use that it seems almost too simple. What this application, as well as the majority of services, does is provide a drag-and-drop builder to make the program exactly what it needs to be: a scaled-down site builder.
We put the majority of our focus on the usability of that drag-and-drop builder. Even with the existing content that is ported to your preview screen, you should be able to edit, remove or add widgets. We gave points for services that provide enough general tools to reach a wide audience but focus in on business features. Our top three products allow you to add mobile widgets like click to call, a map feature, multiple location buttons, coupon widgets, a review form, an email form and PayPal inserts. The list of features gets extensive, but when every product is around the same price range, you want a service with every feature available.
For example, DudaMobile provides every tool, and they all work perfectly. On the other hand, the number three service, Onbile, is missing a proprietary analytics widget. The omission of certain tools can make mobile management a less comprehensive process. The lower-ranked services are missing key features and put strict limits on additional page creation.
In our evaluation of each mobile builder, we looked for specific tools that made a mobile design stand out. Clearly, the more features you are offered the better. Still, the service you eventually decide on needs to have something more.
Three of the 10 ranked services only let you create up to seven pages, hoping that you rely on a landing page and not much more. The other six services allow you to publish more than 10 pages, but only if you pay an upgrade fee.
goMobi doesn't put a cap on pages and allows you to post a long-running blog to your mobile site. This service also provides 30 design templates to choose from, in case you want to reinvent your brand on mobile devices. The average number of templates among the mobile-website builders is 15.
Catering to Customers on the Go
You want to not only catch a reader's attention, but also capitalize on that attention. The presence of extensive eCommerce tools is more than a call to action. Mobile shopping carts are built to be easy. The less information a potential customer has to enter into a form, the better. When a consumer takes notice and links to the retail portion of your mobile site, you have to make it worth his or her time to order on a mobile device rather than put off the purchase or forget altogether. Six of the 10 ranked mobile-building services include eCommerce tools in their basic plans.
On the more basic retail side, the location and company information widgets are worth their weight in gold. These important tools may be as simple as a click-to-call button, GPS features or interactive events that cut down on bounce rate.
Building a mobile website can be as complex as you want to make it. The important thing is finding a service that meets your personal or business needs. A good place to start is choosing a service that allows you to automatically import your current site and customize it at will.
We recommend DudaMobile because it gives you the immediate advantage of converting you desktop site into a customizable mobile view. With 30 templates to choose from, goMobi has enough tools to give your site a unique look. You should also consider Onbile because it has the best looking themes if you choose to create a mobile site from scratch. Each of the ranked builders provide an essential service to your current domain by making it accessible to readers and consumers on the go.