The younger your startup, the more innovative, usually. But sometimes the veterans surprise you. Webste builder Webs (formerly FreeWebs, founded way back in 2001), has enabled site builders to integrate Facebook Connect for site registration. That means if you create a website using Webs.com, visitors will be able to register for your site simply by using their Facebook username and password.
It’s a small feature, but a big step in the direction of wiping out one of the most cumbersome aspects of web browsing: filling out your basic info ad naseum for every new site. It also brings Facebook closer to its endgame of becoming the universal identity system on the web.
Interestingly, none of the most-hyped website builders (Yola, Weebly, Ning) yet offer this service. It goes a step beyond Ning’s integration of Facebook for sharing, launched earlier this month (a feature Webs.com also includes). On March 1st, Ning made it possible for an individual user to link his Ning account to Facebook, so that comments on the Ning network publish to a his Facebook account.
The new Webs integration for registration can also be achieved by creating a Facebook application and integrating into a site… but that requires technical knowledge, which excludes the most users of DYI site builders. “The only people that can take advantage [of Facebook apps] are very technical people, but we think it should be available and accessible down to the individual consumer who has their own website,” says Haroon Mokhtarzada, CEO of Webs.com. A video introducing the service is available here.
And this won't be the first time Webs.com one-ups the more-hyped competition. The company was the first to launch an application store for site builders last November. All of the DIY site builders allow for widgets that embed content from third parties, but those widgets are not ideal for things like sales or live chat that are best when integrated deeply to other areas of the site. “If you need a store, and you drag and drop [a widget], you can’t search, they’re not in the database anywhere,” Mokhtarzada says. “There’s no data structure behind it. These things need to be apps and not just content on a page.”
The Webs.com app store includes services like appointment management, social games and ecommerce. Since its launch, the company says the app store has grown from 1.5 million app installs per month to 2.7 million installs, with the most popular applications being Meebo IM and HeyZap Arcade, and, for businesses, BookFresh Appointments.