Baidu’s new tool makes designing a Chinese mobile website easy… and free

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baidu web app

With so many websites neglecting to make a mobile website — despite China now having more mobile web users than there are on PCs — the local search giant Baidu has launched a free service for creating simple mobile web apps. Called SiteApp, it crafts the content of a site into a basic yet elegant mobile-optimised site.

Baidu’s SiteApp also gives websites the option to put categories in a neat sidebar (pictured above) that looks a bit like the one on Path app. Plus, there are easy-to-access tabs for the main sections of a site. Individual article pages can have images, but the ones we tested out seemed to lack adverts at present.

Baidu has a few partners on board with SiteApp already, such as the state-backed China Radio International. If you look at a desktop and mobile comparison of the same story, you can see that the mobile web app version made with SiteApp is very clean and compact, taking away a lot of the crap extra features that fill most regular websites.

Baidu is talking a lot about mobile these days, with CEO and founder Robin Li recently revealing that Baidu will invest 25 percent of its research fund in mobile, and is expecting three times more mobile revenue this year compared to 2011.

Aside from SiteApp, Baidu massively revamped its own mobile browser app last month, with a strong emphasis on mobile web apps and HTML5. SiteApp itself was unveiled last month at the company’s annual Baidu World event.

But one issue with SiteApp is the comparative lack of monetization options compared to a regular website jam-packed with ads and internal links. Indeed, it’s part of a wider issue of how to make mobile sites pay as well as full ones. Perhaps SiteApp will be a useful vehicle for Baidu’s own mobile ads platform in the near future.

This article by Steven Millward originally appeared on Tech in Asia and was published with their permission.

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