Universe: Designing and publishing a website from your iPhone in about a minute


Sometimes a great idea comes to a person or business and they want to get a placeholder website up and running as quickly as possible. Or perhaps they want to create a "resumé" website on the fly while sitting through a layoff meeting. Whatever the case, Universe is an iPhone app and service that makes designing, editing and publishing a website as easy as answering a few questions and tapping a few buttons.

The app is free to download and use, provided that you want to use a "onuniverse.com" domain. For example, while testing the app yesterday I created "stevesande.onuniverse.com" while waiting for my Dad to be released from the hospital, then took a few minutes to change the look and feel.

The gallery below shows most of the process of designing and publishing a quick site; upon starting up the app you're given the choice of a personal or business site. Next, you answer a few questions, add social media and email accounts (if desired), and then click Publish.

The website is built on a grid of squares three wide and five down. Individual elements such as images or video, social media icons, and text squares fit into this grid. The result is a surprisingly good-looking and customizable one-page website, although I found I needed to scroll on an iPhone to see all of the content. The page looks equally good on most browsers.

I found that during the edit process I needed to change text sizes and orientations, colors, and graphics a few times. That's not an issue; the tools are intuitive to anyone who has used an iPhone before, and it takes just seconds to make a change and then publish the page to see how it looks. 

Let's say I decide that the finished website is nice enough to use as my personal landing page and I want to get a custom domain for it. Under a list of "Your Sites" I see thumbnails of each website along with the existing address and an "Upgrade Domain" button. Tapping on that, I can choose domain names, see if they're already taken or not, and then purchase that domain name for a monthly cost. 

That fee depends on what kind of domain you're grabbing. For instance, a ".xyz" domain is just $0.99 per month while a ".com" runs $2.99 per month.

Universe isn't the tool for creating multi-page websites, e-commerce sites, or things like that. But if you need to just get a single page site up and running in minutes, Universe is at your fingertips on your iPhone.

Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★★