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Show HN: Milkshake – Make Websites from a Phone (milkshake.app)
267 points by collistaeed on June 12, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 90 comments

This is high quality product that produces high quality media and, most importantly, it is a breeze to use (proof: https://msha.ke/ronilan/)

However, “Make Websites from a Phone” is an illusive target. I’ve had a startup circa 2013 with a somewhat similar focus. It got to a working MVP (sort of) and VC term-sheet before it imploded. All that’s left is this video (https://vimeo.com/68029789). There have been multiple other teams/products trying to crack the same nut, generally without success, or with success that is significantly smaller than what the desktop platforms (wix, strikingly etc.) have had in same time period.

The “You Only Link Once” and Instagram focus are a smart angle. Hope this one flys.

First, thank you for the kind words and actually taking the time to make a site!

You're totally right that it's not necessarily a straight forward space. Constraining any complicated job (and websites are actually quite complicated) into a space where data entry is a hassle, fine tune controls are difficult, and it's hard to see the output at the same time as doing the creation task ... eek!

That said, I'm excited about the direction the app has taken as it has good potential for simply UX.

The other company in the space that's doing a neat job (and not in your list) is Universe! They've also got a really novel take on things.

Anyhow, thanks again for giving it a whirl!!

Have you tried opening the page from a desktop browser? It's just stuck in a tiny phone-sized box..

:-) Yes that's intentional, we've started life completely focused on mobile and Instagram (which is broadly only used on mobile).

It means that we get to try to focus on making one experience strong. That said, ultimately the user is providing data which is independent of the look, so evolving a desktop variant is totally doable.

We're (currently) keen to not necessarily run towards traditional responsive design. The reason being that you have a lot of design consequences / unintentional visual limitations - it's one of the reasons a lot of websites kind of look the same, especially from website builders and tools (they go heavy on block layouts to make it easy to deal with responsive).

All that said, it's iteration 1, and our launch is really a 'beta' launch more than anything.

> you have a lot of design consequences / unintentional visual limitations

Would you mind elaborating on what you think those limitations are?

I feel like it’s easy to say ‘nah we don’t do responsive’ instead of figuring out a way do just do it. I can’t come up with a single example that I couldn’t translate from mobile to desktop in some way.

Sorry, I didn't write that very well. I think the consequences are pragmatic ones. In order to achieve more complicated visual designs you have to do a lot more work to make them considerate of all the different situations they might appear in. So pragmatically you either make less designs, or you limit the designs to simpler to scale paradigms (like block layouts) which require less pre-consideration.

As the foundation of this app is the idea that a user can just switch layout/visuals, it needs a lot of visual looks to switch between. Doing a lot of those, and having the responsiveness, and then iterating on app/data model features (which need updates to those designs) is quite a drain on speed.

All that said, since you asked for a single _actual_ example, I have one which I think is quite problematic (though could be addressed in some way, just not easily). We've kicked around the idea of letting users place stickers over the top of their design in order to customise them (a little like Instagram Stories), it's not obvious how to migrate a user input visual through a responsive set of designs without a lot of trouble (the most obvious solution being to guess and then let the user tweak at different responsive breaks).

Hopefully that convinces you that it wasn't just a throwaway 'nah we don't do responsive' :) I'm sure we could do better than where we currently are, and it is an iteration one release!

How about if you flip phone vertically app user can see what tablets and computers see.

If you constrained the width to phone dimensions, but did not constrain the vertical space as much, it would keep similar flavor but be more appealing on non-mobile.

Good thinking, and would enable us to keep ideas like 'stickers' that we've kicked around internally as fun future features (that are way less hard in a non-responsive environment)

Take a look at the UX for WRAP. Based on what I'm seeing now, it would probably fit well for your app: https://www.wrap.co/solutions/

Disclosure: I wrote a lot of the code to power the wrap frontend, but I'm no longer involved with any of it.

times could change - more smartphone users, people less willing to deal with desktop software.

I just wanted to point out that there's a mistake on your website. You write snowboarding is better than skiing. This is clearly false.

I assumed the most glaring mistake people would notice is that the indie grab is with too much hip and too little knee flexion, but your point is also valid.

I just started skiing late this season, so I intend to work on correcting both mistakes in the next one.

Follow me on Instagram! ;)

Wish you nothing but the best. Made an aggregator website in literally 10 clicks as I was on the toilet. Will share it on my story

Just my $0.02 — $9/mo and it's a done deal... Later.com offers that linkin.bio which starts from their $19.90/mo plan (I use Buffer though for my agency's marketing contracts)

This one's super lightweight, can probably be optimised (if it isn't already) to be even more lightweight. Fantastic. Join us at Reddit.com/r/saas (I'm a moderator there) and tell us the story — anything u need, let me know

Assuming the target segment for this product really is "Instagram users who want a link in their bio" per someone else's comment in this thread, I'd price it

$1.99/mo for limited concurrent users / bandwidth $9.99/mo for premium with """unlimited""" users / bandwidth

Honestly surprised there's a "need" for this. This is the kind of thing I would shoot down as a business idea, simply from the standpoint of - nobody needs that.

I'm obviously wrong as there are successful examples like universe out there. But boy does it show me that I'm often completely detached from the consumer in these instances.

Fwiw I can remember a time when I was like "Why on earth would anyone want Squarespace when they can host their own site!?"

These days I try to assume I probably don't understand! For the start of this product, we had a Design Sprint where we came up with the idea, and then brought in real Instagram users to test the idea on (with very lowfi prototypes) befor actually building!

These days I try to assume I probably don't understand!

We could learn so much more in life and have such better interactions if this were the default condition going into the unknown.

“Maybe there’s something here to be learned”

The number of businesses which need hosting is larger than those who are capable of self-hosting. So Squarespace makes obvious sense.

Through that lens: is the number of businesses/people that need a website builder greater than the number of them with access to a desktop computer? For the US, I'd say no. But in Asia I can see this being the case.

I mostly agree with you, but this part is what sells it to me

"Turn your link in bio into an Insta website."

I could see that catching up, though it would still of course be a limited audience.

And also that they did such a nice job with the design and the branding. Would be easier to be more critical if it didn't look that nice.

> Turn your link in bio into an Insta website.

What the heck does that even mean?

I think: Instagram doesn’t allow links in image comments/captions, but does allow a link on your bio/profile page. So people end up sharing links by setting their profile link, and then commenting “link in bio.”

So the pitch here is, I think—make a full website to accompany your instagram posts, just as easily as you posted the photo itself.

“Link in bio” is something an Instagram post creator/author says at the end of a post that provides additional context to the photo.

[Photo] “Love my new custom Yeti cooler on road trips like this! Link in bio”

You cannot post URLs in your post, but you can in your bio.

What a weird limitation. Keeps spam down, maybe.

It's by design. Instagram is another example of 80-20 (really 95:5) in terms of content consumers vs. creators/influencers. And the latter group are always selling some kind of product.

IG makes its money on advertising inside of the platform. As a result, they want to limit the ability of creators' to create their own ads by linking out to non-IG properties.

It keeps users in the app.

Probably has a lot to do with reducing phishing attempts too.

It means your old. :P

You need to get this on Android. For the majority of iOS users, they have access to a larger screen so will prefer creating on that. The problem this solves is less pronounced. But for emerging markets, their Android phone is the first and only access to the internet. Designing a website on a phone isn’t a novelty, it’s the only way they’ll ever move beyond social media profiles to establish an online presence.

Agree completely! We have a spike this week to look at the work to roll out an Android version. That said, we also need to weigh up the roadmap overall and tradeoffs of what the iOS app users need out of the gates

I would almost be tempted to drop iOS. The holy grail for a product is to find the problem you can provide a 10x better solution to. I wonder if you’ll ever be able to be 10x better for creating a website for the vast majority of iOS users. But I would bet a lot of money that you can be 10x better for a majority of Android users. Earning revenue from that market is harder, but it’s not an insurmountable challenge.

Anyway, you know what’s best for your product. Great work on what you’ve done so far.

Curious, why didn't you guys decide to use a cross platform framework?

This is a such a weird niche. Personally I love "business card" websites but I feel that this is not a correct way to approach this.

Why stick with this weird format instead of some responsive grid/flex design? Why only limit to two slide pages? It seems like you guys reinventing wheel here and burdening yourself with unecessary restrictions.

I swear the first person to adapt hugo/lektor/pelican for casual mobile markets will strike gold. It's a static website that you can charge like 2$/month and still have a 90% profit margin.

Sorry if I come out negative but Milkshake looks a bit of a wasted opportunity here.

Because almost nobody browses Instagram from a desktop website. IG themselves discourage it by providing a gimped experience on web. So there is a 90%+ chance that anybody clicking on the link in the IG bio is already on a mobile device.

Curious why you think adapting huge/lektor/pelican to mobile is an opportunity. Mobile app for wordpress seems to do the job quite well. You can create a site, add pages, add posts, pick a theme, publish etc without needing a desktop. Maybe your point is that something that's a static backend could compete aggressively on price vs something like wordpress? Are people trying / needing to publish on casual mobile envs?

Messaging feedback: try leading with the imagery in your video (i didn't play the video until reading the whole page and still not understanding what the product was):

- shot of instagram profile page, with highlighted link to website - shot of what that website looks like

"oh, that's what this is for." and maybe even more specifically: why do you need one of these? so you can sell shit.

In hindsight, I see how "Insta website" was trying to convey this, but it wasn't clear to me that "Insta" was referring specifically to Instagram /directly/--I thought it was just millenial-hip short of "instant."

And "turn your link in bio into" I at first parsed as "turn your linkedin bio into." Then I was like "oh I guess that's not a typo" but I still wasn't sure which bio it was referring to and it seemed like odd phrasing.

Then I hit "Pick a card. Cards are..." and was like "ugh, yep, this is very much a hip app thing i'm not going to understand." instead of leading with a vocab word and then defining it, just skip the vocab word and use its definition. "Pick a page template. Visitors can swipe between your pages just like an instagram story."

(obviously, i'm an old soul and don't really understand instagram. maybe "card" is already more familiar than "page" for instagram folks?)

good luck.

Congrats. This looks great. I had wished for something similar not a long while ago [0], and I'm really looking forward to using it. In Asia esp, commerce over IM apps is huge.

So, the only suggestion I'd like to give (without having used it) is that is it possible to make it so simple that folks could create websites from messaging apps like WhatsApp?

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19772719

PS With Firefox+uMatrix I'm unable to view the video on your landing page. Just thought you should know if you choose to fix it.

That's a cool idea! I will give that some mulling with the team!

(And thanks for the bug report, will get it sorted)

Milkshake as a product and company looks well executed.

However, I wonder if these website builders are a fallacy. If you make money with your business get a team building your custom site, if not just put your opening times right on Google Business without having a website. A half-baken website also done with a builder is still work and if nobody drives by, why the hassle?

And most builders I know still have subpar mobile responsiveness. How is Milkshake in this regard? Are there any examples?

Having a site on a domain you own is critical as an anchor, if you only list on third party sites and for whatever reason they take your listing down your business evaporates overnight.

Had a similar idea, but did not think of leveraging Insta for this, really smart ! What about the pricing for this ?

Thank you!!

Pricing wise, we've been thinking to delay until we see traction. The cost of hosting the sites is fairly trivial because they are static output, which means we can let it grow for a while before introducing some kind of paid something (extra cards, or extra looks, or domains).

@paid extras: analytics! People love their likes and views, at a modest price it would be an easy sell.

PS: Super cool app and execution

Yes! And I think there's some interesting experimentation to be done between 'integrate Google Analytics' versus, make a really dead simple analytics / stats tool. I'm used to GA so assume people understand it, but it's actually quite a confusing thing if you step back and assume you know nothing about how the internet plumbing works :)

I would pay to have "made with - milkshake" removed. Maybe $5 maximum but, yep.

There's a YC company who seemed to create something similar.


Yes! universe are trailblazers! They’ve taken a different paradigm approach, but a pretty neat one :)

This is how I started programming.

There were many mobile site builders in WAP era.

I did not have my own PC and it was easiest way to build something as alternative would be to go to library.

Good times. It's nice this stuff is re-born.

This can be starting point for Young folks in programming!

Couldn’t help but laugh reading some of the comments here saying they “don’t get it” or “why doesn’t it have X feature only a developer or small business would care about?”

Every wannabe influencer on instagram (literally millions of people globally) is going to want one of these—-especially given the design aesthetic that hits the target market right between the eyes. We’re talking about 17 yr old kids here, not enterprise customers. The lower the friction and the more simple it is, the better.

This is going to take off like crazy and I’m both jealous I didn’t make it first and also sad that I’m not an investor.

I'm just afraid Instagram will find a way to block it if it eats into their profits. Most companies don't like when you try to get around their money maker.

And yes, I also thought you meant instantaneous homepage creation :)

Yep. My first thought was "Genius". It's like selling shovels to gold prospectors.

I don’t have much to say about the your project itself, but I thought I’d let you know that Milkshake profiles don’t scroll right in mobile Safari–you can’t tap on the top of the screen to get the page to scroll.

From the Terms: "You must be 13 years or over to create a Milkshake account. If you are under 18 years of age, you will need the permission of a parent or legal guardian (who is at least 18 years of age) to create a Milkshake account."

Seeing that Instagram only requires the age of 13, I wonder if teens will actually bother with permission from their parents/guardians to use Milkshake. Or is this something that will only be enforced after being revealed as under 18? And why 18?

I think the terms of service is probably just written that way to avoid liability.

>Seeing that Instagram only requires the age of 13,

That sounds wrong though

It isn't though. For children under 13, COPPA [0] imposes additional requirements,so most sites have similar terms in their policies. From Instagram's terms of use [1], "You must be at least 13 years old".

[0] https://www.socalinternetlawyer.com/legal-requirements-socia...


> >Seeing that Instagram only requires the age of 13,

> That sounds wrong though

In what way?

Another approach to this (doing quite well): https://onuniverse.com/

Sorry, but where is the value on this project? Only 2 screens, one that has your profile photo and some description with a style on it and another screen with the same link to go back to Instagram. I find this surprisingly useless but I wish you luck on your project, i hope to be wrong.

The very first thing I got to see on the website: the "Watch this" link obscured by the down arrow, and thus unclickable on my 1920x1080 laptop screen. This is not the first impression you want to give, especially when the product itself is about design, of all things.

\tangent Can you serve a website from your phone?

My mobile data provider seems to block incoming packets... (but I can receive if initiated from my phone (as in ftp), so maybe it's just that my IP address isn't known?) I couldn't work it out.

Yes you can. You might be behind NAT what this means is your public IP address is being shared with 100s of other users so for the outside world there's no way to reach you.

If you are on IPV6 you most probably will have public unique IP and should be able to access a website hosted on phone without any issue. ISP might not be explicitly blocking incoming packets. NAT was a necessary evil that we needed when we had limited address space. We should move to Ipv6 as early as possible and kill NAT. I think that will open up tonne of opportunities.

The homepage is gorgeous! I certainly trust it to make a good website. Good luck!

Great idea! Very smart to focus it on building profile pages for Instagram users, then it's a focused use case rather than the general "make a website."

One suggestion: I found the whole term "Insta website" to be more confusing than helpful. I think of Insta as short for Instagram so it confused me to keep seeing it in another context. Honestly, I don't think you even need to define that term. Just focus on the benefits and why the user, as an Instagram user, should want a great page linked on their profile. "Get a profile page like all the top influencers...", "Grow your other social profiles...", etc.

Just a suggestion, hope the idea works out!

Was hoping for a codeeditor with sftp but neat project for the masses.

The target audience for this are likely to use off-the-shelf solutions as much as possible. Apps like Adobe Spark make that clear; while Illustrator and InDesign are superior choices for the professional, IG is all about speed and frequency of posting.

So Adobe Spark lets you grab pre-made, somewhat professional looking templates abd make basic edits to colors and typography. It's a much faster and less rigorous workflow than what a designer would go through to create pro content for IG/Twitter.

You've had a good opportunity with your short URI. Now it doesn't "pronounce" as Milkshake. If this makes sense, grab the domain, otherwise let me know

what do you mean?

msha.ke is shorter than milksha.ke

Or were you thinking of another domain?

No example sites to browse on mobile, other than a video (?)

You might be interested to check:


Been here forever, fantastic to use with or without phone :).

Cool idea! You should do some influencer marketing :)

Thanks exolymph - that's our plan!! :)

It's free. What's the business model?

Probably the same as instagram itself: incessant, vapid marketing to teenagers

I saw a talk of yours on side projects. It was pretty inspiring. Did you build this with those same principals?

Oh yay!!! I was super nervous giving that talk, but I do love side projects.

This one is a mix. I have a side project running an Instagram account so had seen first hand a lot of the needs you run into with a single link in bio, plus all the different neat linking solutions (shout out to another Australian company - Linktree!).

So when it came up in Dec that we were thinking of an angle on the website market, and our marketer suggested we think about Instagram, it all clicked.

(stoked that someone remembers that talk :)

Can you share the link? :)

Sure thing! It's at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwWEc4PhmJI

(14 views ... was a popular talk :-D


What about an Android version?

Posts saying "wow, coolest ever, bye" are about as constructive as posts saying "boo, shit".

For what it's worth I think it's long overdue that there was a good way to produce actual websites for those who only have/use phones. As far as I can tell though, this is much more limited in scope.

Thanks Y_Y it is definitely quite limited at the moment, and intentionally so. We wanted to scope down to something we could pull together and launch as a team who'd never made an iOS app before and wanted to get out to market to validate before getting too excited about patting ourselves on the back.

Hopefully from here we can iterate to a bigger scope (without overblowing it :-)

The site doesn't load well for me. Too much JS maybe?

This looks really solid. I can see it getting big. Good luck!

This is prime for Zucquisition. Congrats.

Need to create Android apps too on the go!

Where do you host the generated web site?

This looks awesome!! Well done!!

Thanks Matt!

(very pumped that it's on HN's homepage :-)

Does your milkshake bring all the boys to the yard?

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