Having a traditional online storefront isn't enough anymore. As customers cling to their smartphones with greater enthusiasm, having just an average business website -- if it isn't already -- may start losing you sales.
Tel Aviv-based Wix.com is offering a possible solution: As of last week the company, which also has offices in New York, is offering a do-it-yourself website development tool aimed at the mobile Web.
Wix's basic services are free. You can design a website and publish it to a Wix.com address for free, but you'll have to pay subscription fees, ranging from about $5 to $16 per month, to do things like link the site to your own domain or remove Wix's advertisements.
We've given the pre-release demo of the product a quick once-over and spoke with company management. Here is what you need to know if you're considering launching your own mobile website:
What it is: Founded in 2006, Wix specializes in DIY Web design. Its new mobile site tool creates content for mobile devices like the iPhone and, to a limited extent, the iPad. Wix's mobile website builder uses simple templates and editing tools that deliver mobile Web basics: a home page with the site name and an image, plus a list of pages with additional content such as photo galleries or lists of services. A preview sidebar shows how the changes look as you go.
The bare-bones approach is intentional, says Wix CEO Avishai Abrahami. The company's initial idea was to move users' existing Wix websites to mobile devices, but the idea was a flop with beta users who favored more compact, to-the-point mobile sites.
Why you might like it: It's ridiculously easy to use. We created a live mobile website within, no exaggeration, minutes. There isn't much to it -- you can edit text, upload images and change the site colors -- but the tool includes mobile must-haves like the click-to-call and click-to-text buttons, which let mobile users reach you right away.
Why you might not like it: One word: Flash. Wix's traditional Web-development tool is based on Adobe's programing environment, called Flash, so your Web customers need to use a device that supports the language to see your site. Most PCs do, but many mobile devices do not; Apple's iPad is the best known. Wix uses more Web-friendly development languages for its new mobile tools, but the Flash-based approach still causes problems. Wix mobile sites do well in small format devices like the iPhone, but look frankly unprofessional on the bigger iPad screen.
Bottom line: As a low-cost entry to the mobile Web, Wix offers some interesting options for small businesses. Although the Adobe Flash-based site editor might be a deal-breaker for some users, the service is worth a look. There is no harm in having a quick and easy-to-make mobile site.
What's stopping you from making your site mobile? Leave a comment and let us know.