In this blog post we review Dudamobile, which offers a pretty neat way of building a mobile site without having to worry about coding. Read on for an outline of why and how to build a mobile site, and how you can use Dudamobile to get one off the ground quickly.
Why you may need a mobile site
There are two reasons why you might want to build a mobile site. Firstly, you may have an existing website that works great on a desktop, but doesn’t look at all good (or load at all quickly) on a smartphone, and you’d like to create a more mobile-friendly version. Or you may wish to foreground specific bits of content from your site for mobile users – maps, phone numbers and opening hours for example – so that they can be found more easily by people looking at your site on a smartphone. As the number of people using mobiles to access web content explodes to the point where people are more likely to check out your business site on a smartphone than a desktop, you definitely need to consider how your site behaves on a mobile device.
How to build a mobile site
There are three main ways that you can go about creating a mobile-friendly site. Firstly, if you are using an online website builder (such as Squarespace, Jimdo or Wix), you may find that you have the option to automatically convert your desktop site to a mobile version which anyone accessing your site on a smartphone will automatically see – if so, it’s just a question of switching this on. Many Wordpress themes certainly come with a mobile version, and the latest version of Squarespace does too. However, the mobile sites that are generated automatically by such website builders are often not very ‘editable’ – you’re stuck with what they give you, and in a lot of cases that’s not adequate.
Another option is to get down and dirty with CSS stylesheets – to get a mobile site off the ground, you need to ensure your site has two of them, one for your main site, and another one for the mobile version (you'll also need a redirection script). The advantage of this approach is that you have 100% control over what you produce; the downside is that you will need good coding skills to ensure that you come up with a genuinely smartphone-friendly site that works across multiple platforms / devices.
The third option – and the one we’re looking at here – is to use a dedicated ‘mobile site building’ tool. These tools give you enormous control over the design and content of your mobile site, without having to worry (much) about any coding. They are also flexible, meaning your mobile site can change as your desktop version does. (The downside is the cost - more on that later).
In this post, we’re reviewing the Dudamobile mobile site builder. The way it works is pretty simple: you go to the Dudamobile website, whack in the URL of the site you’d like to create a mobile version of, and then Dudamobile simply builds one. This, however, is just a ‘first draft’ of your site – you can design and edit it to you meet your requirements.
Designing your mobile site with Dudamobile
With regard to design, Dudamobile lets you edit layout, style and header. Using the layout menu, you can decide how you want to present your main navigation items (in a list, matrix, expanding menu etc.). You can also pick your button types. In the style menu you get control over colour pallets, background images and typefaces. Finally, you can pick a header image for your site, add a title and so on.
If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of design, you can edit the CSS and HTML for each page – handy to have this option I guess, but probably a little bit superfluous for most users who will be using this product (as they will probably be using it to avoid CSS and HTML editing in the first place!).
With regard to content, you can edit the text on every page and add or remove pages as you please. In addition to working with the content that is already present on your desktop site, Dudamobile also provides you with the option of adding special pages to your site that are designed with mobiles in mind – for example, map pages; click-to-text pages; click-to-call pages etc. Many of these ‘special pages’ that you can add are geared towards creating a mobile site for a business – for example, you can add a Yelp reviews page, a Paypal page, a restaurant menu and so on. Adding the more useful ones, however, requires you to purchase a paid plan.
Keeping your desktop and mobile sites in sync with Dudamobile
Dudamobile will keep your mobile site in sync with your desktop one, so long as you don’t edit or delete the text / images that you want to sync using the Dudamobile editor. It’s important to note also that changes made to your desktop site will be pushed to your mobile site, but not the other way round.
Publishing your Dudamobile site
Building your Dudamobile site is pretty straightforward and you won’t really need any technical skills to put your mobile site together with it. However, getting it live will involve whacking a bit of redirection code into your main site, and setting up a mobile domain name – ‘m.yoursite.com’ – will involve fiddling around with your DNS settings. This may be a bit offputting to anyone who is not interested in the technical aspects of website design (Dudamobile’s target audience!) but it’s hard to think of a way around this. Essentially Dudamobile minimises – to a huge degree – the technical challenges associated with mobile site design, but it is impossible to completely remove them. Instructions as to how to copy and paste relevant code into your site (and change the DNS settings) are provided by Dudamobile and I guess you could always contact the Dudamobile support team if you have any serious problems.
There are two plans: a free one and a paid (‘premium’) one. The paid plan costs $9 per month (roughly £6), with 20% off if you pay upfront for a year. The free plan supports up to 10 pages, allows 500 people to visit your site per month, displays adverts and comes with a ‘dudamobile/yoursite’ domain. How useful that will be to you depends on how popular your site is and if you can live with the adverts – personally, I don’t think I would find it that useful, chiefly because the Style Factory site would zip through the page view allowance fairly quickly. The paid plan is is ad-free; you can have an unlimited number of pages / visits, and it allows you to have a proper ‘m.yoursite.com’ domain. And importantly, the premium plan allows you to make use of all the page types that are most useful in a mobile site – you get click-to-call functionality, mobile-friendly Google maps and so on.
Pros and cons of Dudamobile
So, is Dudamobile for you? Well, here’s a quick summary of pros and cons.
Firstly, the pros:
- Dudamobile provides a quick and easy way to create a mobile site
- Its design and layout interface is very easy to use
- You get control over each element of your site (including the option to edit CSS and HTML if you really want to)
- It comes with a lot of functionality that is very helpful for mobile users – the click-to-call and mobile-friendly maps pages are particularly useful.
- You can preview your design as it would appear in Android, iOS and Blackberry OS before going live with your site.
- It works particularly well with Wordpress and Blogger.
- Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be carried out from within the tool.
- The free plan could definitely be better – particularly if you have a site that receives more than 500 page views a month.
- You will still need to do a bit of technical work on your mobile site to get it live – add some redirection code to your desktop version and edit your DNS settings. There isn’t really a way around this, but you should be prepared for it. In order for your sites to stay in sync, you will need to be very careful about how you go about editing text on the mobile version.
- Sync is one-way only: from your desktop site to your mobile site. As such you need to be extremely careful about what you edit and delete on your Dudamobile mobile site.
Dudamobile review conclusions
Dudamobile represents a good way to get a mobile site off the ground cheaply and effectively. It offers a lot of control over your mobile site design, without things getting too complicated. It's especially handy for small businesses that need a simple mobile site, or bands and musicians who’d like to offer an ‘app-like’ experience of their site on a smartphone without shelling out for an app developer. It's not for big corporates though, or anybody needing very specific / sophisticated functionality from a mobile site. Overall, we're impressed, but as with any product we review, we always suggest you try it out properly using the free trial before purchasing, to ensure it meets your requirements.