Do-It-Yourself Mobile Apps for Small Business - Page 3

By James Alan Miller
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This is where you decide which category people will see first and edit which feeds each category will draw content from. You can create and delete categories on the fly as well as assign small images (GenWi calls them favicons) to each category.

You can't reorder your categories once you've added them, unfortunately. We noticed another minor issue when viewing our Web app on an iPhone. When a category is more than a couple of words long, it rolls over onto the next item. Shortening the category names solves this problem, though.

Also, for most feeds -- except for those entered under Quick Post -- when you go to a specific article on a mobile device from a finished Web app, it provides the title, the first sentence or so, and then an option to read the rest in Safari Web browser. This isn’t a major issue, but it does push users away from your mobile app, which is where you want them to be. 

Publishing a Mobile App with iSites

Once you're happy with your app's design, it is time to move on to the Publish tab. This is where you select a pricing plan, and therefore the devices you want your mobile app to reach.

Design mobile apps; mobile tools
The finished mobile app can sport a professional – if not fancy -- look for your business.
(Click for larger image)

After that step, iSite steers you to the Creatives tab where you add a short description of your mobile app, categorize it for the App Store and Android Market if you’ve decided to take it native, and input keywords for search purposes. There are also fields for entering a support URL and banner image for the mobile markets, as well as uploading icon and splash images for when the app is installed on mobile devices.

From there, click the Monetize tab to integrate Google's Admob mobile advertising platform into your app if you like. You must first sign up with AdMob and get a publisher ID for this to work. Should you choose to enable ads, you can stop them anytime.  

If you choose the Pro plan, the Monetize section is where you may add localized coupons to your app. Simply enter a business's name, address and phone number; pick a category and upload a 120 x 79-pixel image for each coupon you want displayed.

GenWi provides you with a number of ways to let folks know about your iSites app. For instance, you can easily distribute the link to your Web app via social media (Twitter and Facebook) and email.

Although we didn't take our app native, if you do, GenWi said it should take no more than 12 hours for it to appear on the Android Market, but it could take two weeks or more to make it onto the Apple App Store.

Bottom Line: Creating Mobile Apps with iSite

If you want a quick and relatively cheap way to create and distribute a mobile application without hiring a developer or taking a course in app development, iSites is a simple and easy-to-use alternative. It's a promising system that should become even better over time.

James Alan Miller is a veteran freelance writer and editor with 17 years experience writing about technology. His areas of expertise include small business, enterprise and consumer wireless, mobile and hardware.

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This article was originally published on March 31, 2011
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