Mobile website building platform Universe released a new update that brings advanced creative controls, improved themes, block functionality, and more to its grid-based web builder. Universe allows users to create a custom site or open an eCommerce store directly from a mobile phone through a simplified grid system without the need for coding. The new update, GRID System II, aims to simplify previously complex coding processes into intuitive gestures to ease the website building process.
“What makes Universe special is the grid system and what we’re announcing today is a big upgrade from that grid system. It’s going to allow people to do a lot more without any technical knowledge, ”Universe CEO and founder Joseph Cohen told TechCrunch in an interview.
The website building process is based on simple building blocks, where the platform offers users a large grid in which to drop content. The new update brings redesigned creative controls with an improved graphical interface, which provides control over the padding of blocks in the grid, as well as granular text spacing. Cohen said users are now able to make the grid more dense and can be up to seven columns wide. The new interface also includes improved color selection tools.
In addition, Univers users can now also choose from 30 new themes for their site or create their own. Before adding themes, each block was styled independently on a case-by-case basis. Now, with the introduction of themes, users can apply consistent design elements across fonts, page backgrounds, and button colors. Themes are applied to all surfaces of users’ sites, including text, backgrounds, titles, and colors.
“We’ve created 30 amazing themes that you can apply to your entire site. You can also go in and create your own theme from scratch. You can match or customize any of the ones we give you ready to use. And any changes you make will be applicable to your entire site. It’s basically a way to change all the styles on the whole site in a visual and easy to use way, ”Cohen said.
Users can also access new text styles, which allow them to categorize text into titles, captions, captions, etc. The company points out that users can use the title indicator to boost SEO and improve accessibility of their sites.
The new update also introduces a new layers feature that allows users to layer blocks on top of each other. Previously, creators couldn’t overlay two blocks, such as a picture box and a text box. With this new layers feature, users have more creative freedom in their website design.
Universe also released a new grid block feature that allows creators to combine different blocks in a sub-grid to create a cluster. It basically lets you add a block to your site that creates another grid in that block, which can be used to add items like a photo gallery. Grid blocks allow you to place precise block arrangements on the grid. The sub-grid can then be dragged anywhere on the page.
While some may view Universe as a competitor to other popular website building tools like Shopify and Wix, Cohen says Universe is quite different.
“We invented a new interface called the grid, which basically allows someone who isn’t technical or who isn’t a professional designer to create a totally personalized website. There are other systems like Squarespace, Shopify, Weebly, and Wix, but they are desktop and template based website builders. Universe is not model based, we have models available but it is not a model based system. It’s not limited by templates, so the grid itself is our design interface.
In terms of usage, Cohen pointed out that Univers has seen an increase in user numbers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people have started new businesses or side businesses and are looking to build sites. Web. At the start of the pandemic, Universe allowed users to sell and ship products on their sites. Therefore, users are not required to sign up for a third-party ecommerce tool, such as Shopify.
“Since the start of the pandemic, our business has really exploded over the past year and a half. In terms of overall growth, we have more or less 10 times the activity in terms of the number of active sites created, ”noted Cohen.
Additionally, Cohen pointed out that Univers has seen an increase in the number of users in the influencer community who want a ‘link in bio’ site, which is essentially a URL at the end of an Instagram profile’s bio. that redirects users to a website outside of Instagram. The redirected site is often used to sell products, link to other social media accounts, showcase a portfolio, and more. Cohen said 40% of the sites created on Universe are for “bio link” purposes and that these types of sites are Univers’s fastest growing areas of business, in addition to commerce.
Cohen says Universe currently has hundreds of thousands of active sites, and the company plans to continue releasing more user-friendly updates in the future as the platform continues to grow.
“With this update we are taking a leap forward, but we will continue to iterate this grid system for decades to come, and ultimately anything that is possible on the internet will be possible with our grid system. This includes the basic creative elements, but also the business capabilities around starting a business, ”Cohen said.