A Cross Between Tumblr and Squarespace, Zapd Updates DIY Website iPhone App

Seattle-based Zapd today announced the launch of version 2.0 of its iPhone app that allows users to create and publish websites directly from their phones. The new version has added built-in social sharing tools, and now features the ability to collaborate with others to build websites. Originally launched in March 2011, the app reached 100,000 downloads within 10 days after release, becoming a top 10 featured app in 12 different countries, and an editor’s choice in the Apple App Store. The startup is backed by Second Avenue Partners and Madrona Venture Partners, among other private investors.

The company is the latest startup from CEO and founder Kelly Smith, whose past ventures include Inkd.com, Imagekind, and RocketVox. The mobile app lets users choose from available themes, more of which are available with the new release, and create a website straight from their mobile device, adding text, photos, and links to Tumblr-like posts.

“One of the issues that I have with photo-sharing sites is they tend not to be mobile first, it’s almost more of an archival place,” Smith said in an interview. “But if you think about it, it’s not the first thing you think of if you want to tell a story that consists of a couple paragraphs of texts and seven or 10 photos. You don’t get a nice clean URL, it’s too hard to set up and navigate. So we felt like this had to be almost instantaneous.”

The first version of the app focused on getting a website up and running from a user’s iPhone, and this second iteration includes a variety of social features geared around building a community around the platform. It now comes with a social feed of other user’s websites, or Zaps, and lets users follow other authors. Users can also invite people to collaborate on their sites, or request to collaborate on others’ projects. In regards to the photos themselves, it comes equipped with dozens of filters, cropping, and image enhancing options which can then be uploaded in batches onto a Zap.

The app comes preloaded with more than 45 themes based around events, holidays, and moods, with the ability to switch between themes which are optimized for all platforms, including web, mobile, and tablet. The app and all the themes are free, and the company plans to roll out a premium account that would get users additional themes, an analytics tool, custom URLs in addition to the ability to add multiple admin.

Sitting somewhere in between Squarespace, Tumblr, and Instagram, the company has its work cut out to have ‘zaps’ become a common way to publish photos and create mobile websites. Its unique twist on being able to build a website solely from a mobile device (the company has yet to release a web editor) makes it stand apart from other popular website-building services like Squarespace, which launched version 6 of its platform earlier this year to allow users to create mobile-friendly HTML5-powered blogs and portfolios.

“We really are mobile first, in fact as of now we don’t even have a web editor, we will, but we’re extremely different in that we don’t have a web editor right now. Just as Path does not have an interface to their application online, nor do we, because we’re focused on making that mobile experience really, really simple,” Smith said.

The company is currently developing an iPad app, which will include the ability to add multiple pages and other traditional website components likes forms, as well as making analytics available to publishers. With a variety of website builders available, from simple blogging tools to more robust tools like Wix and Squarespace, Zapd will have to corner the mobile market and emphasize sharing options in order to become the de facto choice for on-the-go publishers.


Humayun Khan

Humayun Khan is a Senior Writer and Analyst at BetaKit. A marketing graduate with honors, Humayun's work experience spans the fields of consumer behaviour with noted contributions in an academic paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology and market research consulting having coordinated projects for a major financial services client at Decode Inc. More recently he was involved in business strategy as a Business Analyst for an equipment rental outlet and prior in the National Marketing Department at Ernst & Young LLP. He is passionate about emerging and disrupting technology and its ability to transform and create entirely new industries.

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