I’ve been struggling for a while now trying to mobilize AnotherWindowsBlog after I’ve migrated to a self-hosted WordPress installation from Blogger. It’s not that it seemed that hard. I knew there just had to be a plugin to help me accomplish the task. At first, I actually did find a couple of plugins that promised to help me create a mobile version of my blog. However, at that time, things just didn’t work out as expected. Whether it was due to the WordPress theme I was using at the time or due to my inexperience with WordPress itself, I just couldn’t get it working the way I wanted to. I’ve left the issue alone and have totally forgotten about it. Until now. It’s a new year and I’m going to start 2012 off by resolving this issue once and for all!
If you are new to the whole mobile website thing and wondering why you might want to also considering mobilizing your blog, think about the last time you visited a site or blog on your mobile smart phone. If that site didn’t have a mobile friendly version, then the entire site will load in its entirety. When I say the “entire site”, I mean the site will load on your mobile phone as if you were accessing it from your desktop computer. The problem with this? Well, depending on the site, it can be really hard to navigate around in that small screen. Does every blog publisher need to mobilize their site though? Well, of course not. For many blogs, readers can simply load the site as usual on their smart phone and use pinch and zoom features. For word heavy posts like mine, readers can usually just double-tap the content area and their mobile device should be able to instantly zoom in and format the words to fit their screen. With a mobile version of a site, readers are spared from having to do this.
Here is how my blog looked like when visited on my iPhone:
As you can see, the format looks a little funky with that big chunk of of empty white space. You can also see that my blog loaded in its entirety. Everything from the header image to every widget on my sidebar. As far as the content area, the good news is that a reader could have easily just double-tap that area and they would automatically zoom in, like in the second picture. Things then looked a lot more readable. However, mobilizing my site is still something I want to achieve rather than just relying on a double-tap.
In this article, there are two free services/plugins that I would like to promote. These two services offers you a free and very simple way to get your blog running mobile-friendly in just a matter of minutes.Update: It is now my personal recommendation to not rely on a third party plugin for blog mobilization. Instead, the better method is to deploy a responsive WordPress theme. A responsive theme will automatically show the correct layout of your blog depending on the device’s screen resolution. If your current WordPress theme is not responsive-aware, please contact the theme creator and ask if it will be possible for them to incorporate this feature in the future. I’ve tested both plugins by accessing my site on my iPhone using the default Safari browser along with popular third-party browsers Opera and Dolphin. All three browsers loaded my site correctly.
I believe this is one of the more popular plugins offered for the WordPress platform for users wanting to mobilize their site. I have slight memory of trying this plugin in the past but again, I believe it didn’t work for me for whatever reason I don’t know. I’ve recently upgraded to the latest and stable version of WordPress (3.3.1) and I am also currently using the stable WordPress Genesis theme framework by Studiopress. Therefore, I figured I would give this plugin another shot just to see if my luck has improved.You can download the WPtouch plugin for WordPress from here.
Once you’ve activated the plugin, the only thing you have to do next is customize it to your liking! Automatically, WPtouch will begin working in the background and every time a visitor lands on your website via a mobile device, WPtouch will load the mobile version. Here you can see my homepage and a blog post once WPtouch has been activated:
You’ll no doubt notice immediately that all of my sidebar widgets have disappeared. This is normal because a mobilized version of a website or blog focuses only on the main content of the site and cuts away other unnecessary distractions to save space. Removing those items also helps conserve bandwidth and helps your site to load a lot faster.
WPtouch does have some options for you to toggle around with. Mainly, you can enable thumbnail images on the the home page, chose a background theme, enable or disable zooming, uploading and choosing your own icons for each page, and even enabling Google Adsense.If at first activating WPtouch gives you an error when you visit your blog’s home page, don’t panic. Head over to WPtouch’s Options page and under the Home Page Re-Direction drop-down menu option box, select WordPress Settings. Wait a few seconds and reload your site. Hopefully, it should work then.
What’s most helpful is that WPtouch helps explains what most of the options do. Simply click on the little red question mark next to the setting in question and a little popup box will appear explaining what that setting will do. However, many of the settings are pretty self-explanatory but if you’re still not sure at what a setting will do if enabled or disabled, simply configure it, reload your site via a mobile device and note the difference. If it’s not to your liking, then simply revert the change to its previous configuration.
Once you’ve downloaded and activated the plugin, you’ll actually have to signup for a developer key before Wapple can begin its work. Signing up for the key is very easy and fast. You can do so from this link here. The key will be emailed to you once you’ve completed the signup and you’ll then have everything needed to begin using Wapple. Simply head over to the Basic tab and paste the key you’ve received from Wapple in youremail into the ‘Wapple Architect Dev Key’ field. Once done so, Wapple will then truly be activated and you can then configure the other settings. Here is how my blog looks like with Wapple using the Obsidian theme:
Of course, it looks a little plain right now but I’m still deciding at the moment whether to permanently use WPtouch or Wapple. The latter definitely has a lot more options for you to play with but for users who just want something simple, you’ll most likely ignore a majority of them. But whatever the case, Wapple got my site mobilized as soon as I entered in the developer key and for that I am very grateful.
Should you Mobilize your Site?
I’ve only shown two methods here to help you mobilize your WordPress site. I’m sure there are a dozen of other ways as well but if you’re not an HTML expert, don’t even bother. The big question is whether you should create a mobile version of your site or not. In my opinion, I think you definitely should. I’m sure you are already aware of the huge demand for mobile devices. With smart phones paving the way, more people are engaging your blog or site while on the go. Many a times, people just grumble whenever a site loads the desktop version on their smart phone because now the reader has to put in some work to navigate around your site. With a mobile version up and running, the reader just has to select what he/she wants to read and that’s it. Of course, they still have to scroll vertically but at least now the page doesn’t “wiggle” from left to right when zoomed in.
Some readers are against mobilizing a site because as I mentioned earlier, a mobile version of a site strips away many of the extra elements that a reader might want to see or engage in. Whatever the case, I still feel the advantages outweighs the disadvantages. At the very least, some readers actually consider a mobile-friendly version of your site as pure politeness. You just can’t argue that navigating around a mobile-friendly site is harder than the opposite. If you don’t create one, your readers might actually think that you don’t care about them and you’ll potentially lose a subscriber.