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Should you use a Mobile WordPress Plugin?

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June 12th, 2009
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Blogging, brainstorming, WordPress Plugins

Twitterized answer? Abso-freakin-lutely! Take a look at the following graph. It shows the pageviews and unique visitors on this blog from mobile browsers since we started tracking last year. Notice the numbers and the trends? How many of your visitors, do you think, come back to your blog after your page takes five minutes to load on their iPhone, and needs the twenty flick, carpal thumb scroll to read browse through the huge header? If you care about your reader and want to keep up with this growing populations’ reading habits, a mobile plugin on your blog is a necessity. Now what you use is up to you.

Mobile Statistics

Mobile Statistics

We use MoFuse on this blog and I must add it is somewhat successful. The mobile pages are decent, the pages load relatively fast and the statistics are nice. But the admin pages are painfully slow and MoFuse injects their own ads to the browsed pages. To offload the hassle of course, is priceless. The following list is a short rundown of the most popular ways to build a mobile version of your blog on WordPress. Please add yours in the comments if I have forgotten one or if you have an opinion about any of these.

  • WordPress Mobile Edition is a fantastic plugin from Alex King’s Crowd Favorite that builds a mobile version of your blog and even adds a commenting interface. Their mobile demo on the Carrington theme is quite attractive indeed. Smaller screens do not display this as well as the iPhone does.
  • WordPressMobile.mobi (I just noticed the WordPress in the domain name) A WordPress mobile plugin by Andy Moore that provides a mobile version of your WordPress blog. The site does not provide any screenshots or details, just a forum. Looks like a very popular plugin with lots of installs.
  • WordPress Mobile Pack by James Pearce is a well liked set of plugins that creates a mobile environment for your WordPress blog including the admin panel. Screenshots are included on the extend pages.
  • Mobilize is another plugin that renders your WordPress blog via Mippin and even allows the user to insert their own ads. The plugin touts to be configuration free. Clean and tidy.
  • WordPress PDA and iPhone is a simple, straightforward plugin that renders a simple version of your blog on a PDA. Output screenshots on the plugin page.
  • MobilePress is a WordPress plugin that will render your WordPress blog on mobile handsets, with the ability to use customized themes. The plugin also allows specific themes for specific devices / mobile browsers, such as iPhone, Opera Mini, Windows CE Mobile and other generic handset browsers. Nice site, good screenshots, simple install.
  • WPTouch is a mobile plugin and theme combination for WordPress that adds a sleek WordPress theme for iPhone visitors.

There are various other plugins on the WordPress Extend that extends the mobile functionality to your WordPress blog. Choose one that fits your needs and wants and just let it run. You have nothing to lose but a lot of new readers to gain.

What mobile plugins have I missed? Do you read blogs over your mobile phone?

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44
Responses

 

Comments

  1. HotSauceDaily (1 comments.) says:

    I’m using Alex King’s WordPress Mobile plugin.
    Although I’m not keen on having a different theme (Carrington) displayed, it is very clean and does the job.
    Looks really slick on my Blackberry Storm.

  2. Matt Algren (3 comments.) says:

    I use the WordPressMobile.mobi plugin. It comes with a stripped down theme with several color variations, with an option to customize as desired.

    One of my favorite features is that the plugin checks both the browser and the domain mapping to see if the user is on a mobile phone. If it thinks they are, it asks with a lightweight page before switching to the mobile theme, but gives the option to switch back in case the plugin was wrong. A link to switch between mobile and desktop can be put in the site’s footer without touching any code.

    One warning: If you’re logged in and switch to the mobile version, make sure you switch back before you head to the backend. There’s a (limited) mobile backend, and you can’t switch to the desktop version without going to the front.

  3. Jonathan (2 comments.) says:

    What about using adaptive CSS layouts ? If the mobile browser supports Javascript, it should be a good option I guess.

    • Kelson (20 comments.) says:

      In an ideal world, where mobile bandwidth was plentiful and the only difference between a desktop browser and mobile browser were screen size, adaptive CSS would be the best, most maintainable way to deal with this — but right now, mobile access is a lot slower than a typical broadband connection.

      It really does help to send less code to mobile browsers, especially if you have a really busy layout with a long sidebar, full post text on the front page, etc.

      The front page of the blog I update most regularly tends to be about 65K of HTML before compression. Using WordPress Mobile Edition, it’s about 16K of HTML (again, before compression). It would take 4x as long to download the normal page and then display it. That’s a significant savings

      • Jonathan (2 comments.) says:

        Yes, of course, I get your point… Javascript adds to markup, and even though hidden elements don’t take up space on the screen, they still have to be downloaded. But apart from these considerations, what would be the support for it on mobile browsers, I don’t know…

      • Otto (215 comments.) says:

        I use a CSS-only mobile version on many sites, and it works perfectly. I highly recommend it over a plugin in most cases.

        Realistically, 65K vs. 16K is not going to be noticable on most modern mobile devices. 3G is 3.6 mbits (7.2 on newer systems), and you’re talking about just a few packets here. Sure, you’d see it if you were on an old Edge network, but with the most common handsets nowadays, you’ll never notice it.

        • Kelson (20 comments.) says:

          65 vs 16K was just the HTML, not counting scripts, images, etc. And it was already a factor of 4.

          And sure, ~36K doesn’t sound like a lot, especially with 3G…but here’s the question: are all of your (potential) mobile readers on a modern 3G-capble phone? Do they all live in areas with decent 3G coverage? How often do they travel outside of a 3G area?

          Just yesterday, I tried to look something up in an area where I was stuck on edge. Half an hour later, I tried to look up something else in an area with a strong 3G signal. Even with the same phone and browser, the difference was night and day.

          • Otto (215 comments.) says:

            Yes, but how exactly are you saving bandwidth on scripts and images and such? Those scripts and images still have to be loaded, if they’re displayed. Or is your plugin leaving them out entirely (not the case on most I’ve seen).

            As for images, if your CSS has an image as display:none, then it never gets loaded, for example, so those don’t count. For scripts, I grant you that most of them are not needed in such a browser, so you could save some bandwidth there, but then again many mobile browsers don’t load scripts because they can’t run them anyway. On those that can, ideally, you’d want them unless they produce something that you’d block in the first place (sidebar stuff, for example).

            My point is that with a good site design in the first place, a CSS-only mobile version is almost always enough to make it fast and furious on mobiles, without resorting to special server-side code to detect and create a special version of your site just for that use-case. WAP and WML sites more-or-less failed for a reason, and that reason is that adding extra support for specific devices is way outside the norm of web development. The idea is to create a standard document and then let the client decide how to display it best. Stylesheets are the way to go here unless you have extremely custom use-cases for your site; ones which almost never apply to anything short of actual mobile web applications.

  4. KeiferB (1 comments.) says:

    We currently use Dale Mugford & Duane Storey WPtouch iPhone Theme plugin, but thanks to this post we will look into expanding our sites mobile device support.

  5. Nick Thacker (2 comments.) says:

    I currently use WPTouch for my site, but I’m considering using an extension for other mobile platforms as well, like Palm or Blackberry.

    Do these plugins coexist nicely? Or will one override (mess up) another?

    Great post though–thanks for the links!

    • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

      They might overlap because of the browser detection. I suggest being careful overlapping mobile plugins.

  6. Nick Thacker (2 comments.) says:

    Hmm, I see.

    Thanks for the response, Mark–I’ll keep you all posted on this, maybe I’ll try installing another plugin to go with WPTouch.

    Haven’t used any others, though I do recommend WPTouch for its straight-out-of-the-box functionality and great look!

    • Darren (1 comments.) says:

      At the time of writing this response (which may change now that I’ve been presented with more options and reviews) I use WP Touch and WordPress PDA & iPhone – the latter allows you to choose what browsers it responds to, and I simply excluded the iphone from it’s list allowing WPtouch to take over. I only recently got a iPhone so now that I can do some experimenting, I’ll revisit to see if I like anything more than the WPtouch plugin.

  7. Mark Ashley (1 comments.) says:

    What about compatability with WP-Super-Cache?

    I was running Alex King’s WordPress Mobile a few versions back, but there would be times when a stripped-down mobile version would end up being the cached version, served thereafter to ALL users, not just mobile ones. It happened frequently enough that I turned off the mobile support.

    Is there a fix for this, or do other mobile plugins play nicer with super-cache?

    • Kelson (20 comments.) says:

      It’s not a matter of the mobile plugins playing nice with Super-Cache, it’s a matter of Super-Cache knowing not to cache the output from those plugins.

      You could get around this before by looking up the strings your mobile plugin of choice used to detect mobile browsers, then adding them to the Rejected User Agents list. Mobile devices would never get a cached page, but at least desktop browsers wouldn’t get a cache mobile page.

      The latest version of WP-Super-Cache includes an option to detect mobile devices, which you can enable on the settings page. The downside is that the detection is done in PHP, so it only works with the cache in “half on” mode.

      • Steve Ollis (2 comments.) says:

        This is exactly the reason why I moved away from WP-Super-Cache, and over to Satollo’s Hyper Cache (listed in the WordPress Plugin directory)

        Hypercache allows you to EASILY set what browser and user-agents you DON’T want cached, and then lets your Mobile WordPress plugin of choice (WordPress Mobile is mine) to generate the device specific pages. A nice feature of WordPress Mobile is the ability to insert mobile device specific ads, for those who are trying to monetize their blogs.

        • Donncha O Caoimh (8 comments.) says:

          WP Super Cache has had “mobile support” for quite some time and if you download the development version it will serve static html files to normal clients, and wp-cache (php powered) cache files to mobile clients. Visit my blog on an iphone and you’ll see :)

  8. Jeff (1 comments.) says:

    I wrote about this issue just the other day. I didn’t examine the options available, but more an examination of whether one should present mobile options or not.

    http://www.installedforyou.com.....r-not/241/

  9. Ryan A. Smith (7 comments.) says:

    So…among those mobile plugins, which one is the best?

  10. Neville Hobson (2 comments.) says:

    I use two mobile plugins:

    * Alex King’s WP Mobile edition. Still with version 2.1a. No iPhone version.
    * iWPHone by ContentRobot. A bit old now (Sept 07) but works and looks great on the iPhone.

    I echo Ryan A. Smith’s question: of all the ones mentioned, which is/are regarded as the best?

  11. William Teach (1 comments.) says:

    I like the WordPress PDA and Iphone combined with WPTouch. Works great with BBerry’s, not so well on other devices since I have WP Cache enabled.

  12. Fu4ny (1 comments.) says:

    I’m using Alex’s WordPress Mobile Version. It’s very useful, I’m using it for a long time and didn’t want to change it.
    But, the downside is, it doesn’t provide an mobile version for dashboard

  13. Matt (27 comments.) says:

    It’s easy to find a list of all the mobile plugins out there, what would be interesting is an in-depth review that at the end picks a winner, and lists all the criteria for that decision. I think this is the next level for the WordPress blogs.

  14. [Blocked by CFC] George Serradinho (2 comments.) says:

    Hi,

    thanks for this list. I have just installed the MoFuse plugin and made available a mobile version of my site :)

  15. Jackie Chia (1 comments.) says:

    DO YOU USE THIS TOOL NOW ?

  16. Akshay (1 comments.) says:

    I think the best and simplest of all is mofuse,it makes your mobile site ready for free without doing anything extra.You only have to install simple mofuse plugin just to setup redirection.

  17. Cigar Inspector (6 comments.) says:

    I recently installed WPtouch and am very happy with it so far. Got a lot of nice feedback from the readers.

  18. Ali Hussain (12 comments.) says:

    Read this post a few days ago. Installed the plugin lately. Saw increase in traffic and readership.

  19. Modern Technology (1 comments.) says:

    I used wordpress plugin for iPhone and performance in very nice. Is that common plugin for all other mobile devices? You referred for different plugins but can you recommend best one or any single compatible with different mobile platforms?

  20. Rich Gubby (1 comments.) says:

    Hi,

    Great list but it’s a shame it was created before mine was put on WordPress!

    I’ve created a mobile plugin that uses the same URL for mobile as web, the styling from web to mobile is retained and every device in the world is catered for. (I’ve just checked out this blog on a Nokia N73 and got the web version)

    Version 1.3 has just been released and there are a ton of new features including full customization of all styles, dynamic resizing of images to fit the handset and commenting from mobile.

    If you fancy checking it out, the home page is here: http://wordpress.org/extend/pl.....architect/ – it’d be great to hear your feedback on it and hopefully can appear in your next list!

  21. Microsoft Guy (13 comments.) says:

    I use WPTouch, as it definitely is pretty cool, and most of the people that browse my blog on a mobile device are either iPhones, Blackberry’s, or other similar PDA’s.

  22. The cool Guy (4 comments.) says:

    I will also like to use mobile plugin for my wordpress website.

  23. Indi (1 comments.) says:

    I use the ‘WordPress PDA & iPhone’ plugin on my site. Works straight out of the box with pretty much no configuration required, but now I’m getting picky and would like some options that I can change – maybe even display ads in the future.
    Your list has given me some others to try so I’ll see how I’ll go. Thanks.

  24. JRothraMin (1 comments.) says:

    I’ve tried three mobile plugins: Rich Gubby’s Wapple, Alex King’s WP Mobile Edition, and one called WP Mobile Detector. Here’s a summary of the results:

    – Wapple: errors on four phone: Android 1, Android 2, iPhone 2, and Blackberry (unsure the version, but phone latest as of May 2010). Attempts to get assistance were fruitless. The plugin may have been updated since, but at this time I can’t recommend Wapple.

    – Mobile Edition: clean look (Carrington theme). However, I couldn’t find a way to customize the look without having to go elsewhere within the WP dashboard (a downside for a plugin, I think). But the plugin worked well. I do recommend this one.

    – Mobile Detector: Comes with multiple themes accessible through the plugin’s settings page. The plugin works well and creates clean looks for the various themes. The various appearances is the only advantage I could find for this one over Mobile Edition. I do recommend this one, as well.

    Between ME and MD, both are good plugins that work well. Both are recommended for automatically creating mobile access to your site customized for smart vs. traditional (dumb?) phones.


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    Reading: Weblog Tools Collection: Should you use a Mobile WordPress Plugin? http://tinyurl.com/kj4s4n

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    #wordpress: Weblog Tools Collection: Should you use a Mobile WordPress Plugin?: Twitterized answer? A.. http://tinyurl.com/kj4s4n


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