Few leave home without their mobile devices now, and the lower cost and convenience of these gadgets means they are grabbing an ever growing share of the world’s internet traffic. Look at the platforms visitors are using to access your websites, and you will likely be surprised at the percentage that is mobile. All this makes mobile something you must consider when optimizing your sites.
Things to consider with WordPress for mobiles
Regardless of how a mobile WordPress site is created, the following should be kept in mind for best results:
- Sites need to be lighter and faster to load. Mobile users not only have less bandwidth, but they are more likely to be in a hurry and less likely to wait longer for pages to load.
- Pages will need to be more concentrated on text that is easy to read on a small screen with fewer images, frames, flash and the like.
- Navigation should have less emphasis on the top of the page and more on links in the text that are easy for fingers on touch screens.
- Remember that search engines put more local emphasis on mobile pages.
Assess the need
Before jumping in and installing themes and plugins for mobile, first take a look at your sites and decide what, if anything, needs to be done. Remember that mobile browsers do automatically resize web pages to fit on their screens. Depending on the theme and the design of your site, it may be fine just the way it is. Check it out on your own mobile devices and decide what might need to be done.
Ways of optimizing WordPress for mobile devices
If you decide your site needs to be optimized for mobile, there are different themes or plugins that can do the job.
Use a responsive WordPress theme
Using a responsive theme is an almost effortless way to optimize for mobile. Basically, the theme does all the work and automatically resizes and sometimes rearranges things for mobile. This site uses ClickBump, which is a responsive theme. With mobile growing in importance, more and more WordPress themes are responsive.
Apart from a few theme settings, almost no effort is required for this approach, and there is no need to install more plugins.
On the negative side, depending on the site and its layout, a responsive theme may not work so well on a mobile screen. For example, responsive themes often push side images and other parts of a site to the bottom of the page, which may not be what you want your site to do. In addition, responsive themes are sometimes too heavy for mobile users.
WordPress plugins approach
If the theme you use does not deliver the mobile experience you would like, there are plugins that can do the job. Some will automatically mobile optimize your sites while others will give you the ability to customize what will appear on your mobile site, so you can eliminate what might not display well and add elements you think are needed. The following are some popular ones:
WordPress Mobile Pack
This is a popular plugin that has a lot of options for displaying sites for both desktop and mobile screens. There is a learning curve, but its features include:
- A mobile switcher that enables you to automatically have your site select a theme based on the type of device the site visitor is using, and mobile widgets allow for further customization.
- Various settings give webmasters control over exactly how their sites will appear to include automatically resizing images, custom color variations and splitting articles into multiple pages when this is the best way to display them on a mobile device.
- A mobile admin panel lets webmasters edit their sites from anywhere.
The most popular plugin for mobilization at the time of this writing, it is easy to use and will optimize sites for every major type of mobile device. You can choose from different themes and customize various aspects of how your site will appear on mobile devices. Mobile sites can be created without affecting the existing desktop theme or modifying its code.
However, the free plugin only gives a taste of what is possible. WPtouch Pro has a lot more features and will allow you to totally customize the look of the site on mobile devices.
In addition to different types of devices, this plugin also allows the theme to be customized for the various browsers and will automatically serve the version of the site in accordance to what the visitor is using.
WP Mobile Detector
WP Mobile Detector is a plugin that has both free and paid editions. It claims to support far more mobile devices than other plugins. Websites can quickly be adapted for viewing on mobile devices. Some of the features include automatically formatted images, WordPress widget support, multilingual sites and a number of themes.
Plugins for site management from mobile devices
For those creative moments that come when outside, or just to keep a site updated from any device, there are a number of plugins that make it possible to easily edit WordPress sites from mobile devices. From Android, IOs and BlackBerry, there are apps that allow webmasters to edit pages and posts, upload photos, manage comments and other functions to keep websites current at all times. Mobile Apps covers every major type of device.