Article in App of the Week category.
No-Coding Mobile Web Development with Universe
It’s incredible how far things have come. That feels like a little bit of a cliche but sometimes you just have to take stock of…
It’s incredible how far things have come. That feels like a little bit of a cliche but sometimes you just have to take stock of that. I first got into the Mac space was back in high school when I could use iWeb to design a, albeit limited, website with no coding experience. I then went on to learn to code and spend a good portion of my professional life designing and programming apps and and web sites. I remember the massive shift where we went from static sites to ones that felt alive with motion effects and responsive layouts that could shift from mobile, to tablet, to desktop. That makes me particularly impressed with an app such as Universe that packs all of this technology into a simple iPhone app where you can build a beautiful website, run a store, and much more without a single line of code.
There have been websites that do what Universe does but packing it into a mobile app is particularly impressive. It takes just a few minutes to build out a whole website. Pull in photos from the Photos app, add buttons, actions, maps, Shopify stores, contact links, galleries, videos, and so much more with just a few taps.
I love how stores can be built, whether using Shopify or other payment processors. Once live, these payments and other analytics can be tracked via the Universe app. You can see your payments and orders come in and track your growth over time.
The basic element that Universe uses is a block system. Any element can be dropped onto one of the blocks, of which there are three wide. Pictures you can pinch to expand, filling more blocks to make it bigger, across the whole screen. Universe walks you through building the site, optionally buying a domain, linking to your socials, and publishing the site. Universe Pro does have more options, but the free portion is remarkably verbose.
With the pro version, you can create discount codes for your store, collect emails for your very own mailing list, get your own custom email address, and purchase shipping labels at a discount. I’m never going to get over how these features that used to require so much heavy lifting and coding, are now widely available.
Universe is an upstanding, iOS citizen. There is VoiceOver support that would allow visuallyimpaired users to design a website on their own. Haptic Touch gives you physical feedback as you move around UI elements. It also uses universal purchase so that the same app works on iPhone, iPad, and Mac with your subscription working on all platforms and your content syncing in between.
Apple’s iWeb is no more, but with apps like Universe, it frankly isn’t needed. Universe is beyond impressive with how well it works and how many boxes it will check for most people’s ideas of a website. Sure, you aren’t designing a game or a social network, but its still plenty powerful.
But enough about other people's apps.