MoMo Mike was most kind to connect me to fellow New Yorker David Harper. Mike and I had spoken a lot about mobile and the state of mobile in Silicon Valley (took about 2 seconds) and he tipped off David one day to give me a ping.
I am glad he did.
David Harper is the brains behind Wireless Ink's WINKsite, a nifty tool for creating mobile-friendly websites. You sign up, point and click to choose what kind of content you want on your mobile site, and that’s it. It’s really easy and quite versatile. For example, you can put your blog, RRS feeds, and links on your site. The blogs will be intelligently transcoded for easy reading on the phone browser. You can also put other stuff on your site, such as surveys, notes, guest book, forums, or chat. The WINKsite control panel makes it really easy and fast to set up and you don’t need to code anything.
Click here to open up my mobile site.
David has deep experience in content management systems, having successfully run an online marketing company, among other interesting things. He thought up WINKsite one day, dreaming up a solution to make it easy for folks to create mobile websites.
He’s been working at it a bit over 3 years with pal, Jason Sabella, WINKsite itself going live about 2 years ago. In the last year, people really became aware of it. With no marketing or promotion, he’s now at over 9000 sites with something like 110 million mobile screen views over the year.
Also, he’s picked up an impressive list of users – go check out the list of top sites that are mobilized by WINKsite. Some really smart folks, like Howard Rheingold, O’Reilly’s MAKE crowd, Debi Jones, Boing Boing, and Om Malik have WINKsites. And Scott Rafer left his CEO position at Feedster to be the Chairman of Wireless Ink.
Enough of the name dropping.
What I like about David is that on one level, he has created a tool that makes it dead simple to create a mobile website. On another level, the navigation and quality of the mobile site is really good. And on another level, he really understands how to bring together the PC-based broadband experience with the mobile experience.
For example, on the phone, you can add content to your site and do some light administration. From the PC, you can obviously do a lot more, but in both cases, changes show up right away – it’s all one site. Also, what is really neat, is that you can view the site either from the phone or from the PC. Click on some of the relevant links above to see what that looks like.
I haven’t seen any sort of tool like this. I will admit that I have been playing with WINKsite for some time and have sort of been keeping David to myself (scheming on my part, of course). But, I really can’t contain my enthusiasm any more, especially with some new stuff David is adding.
David’s methodically adding new things to WINKsite that make the PC-mobile-Web link even stronger. For example, with a few clicks you can add a chat room to your site (how kewl is that?). But, David’s worked up a way to display where the chats originate from, based on the location info in the user's profile. That makes these mobile website chats a bit more physical.
Another little thing he’s worked up is an intuitive display (see below) of what are the most popular chat tags. This makes it easier for someone on a PC browser to scan and choose a mobile website chat, which they can later participate in from their phone.
Basically, the mapping and the tags make a strong link from the PC browsing experience to a mobile browsing experience. I really don’t know of any website that makes it easy for folks to go between PC browsing to mobile browsing, nor any site that takes advantage of the PC browser to promote so well the discovery of mobile sites.
I’ve been challenging David to figure out a way to do the reverse as well, since I am keen on building that round trip between mobile and PC. He’s been working on a text-only way of generating the tag list, but the browsers are pretty pesky. And I know he's been thinking of the right things and will be adding some more cool things soon.
In summary, David has this easy-to-set-up personal content aggregator (DLA, Marc?) for mobiles, with a harmonious and integrated PC and mobile experience, and with connections that facilitate the flow between the PC and mobile.
I see WINKsite growing steadily and on the right path to become a great mobile interface to the Web, adding closer integration between the PC and mobile and increasing the bi-directional flow of the total experience. I, for one, am sticking close and watching David.
You should, too.