In today's smartphone dominated era, phones are an integral part of our lives. This can be verified from the statistics provided by Facebook's mobile user growth which went up from 293 million (Q2, 2012) to 469 million (Q2, 2013) in just one year - a mind blowing 60% growth! (Source: TechCrunch)
For those folks who aren't much into Facebook, a large amount of emails and texts (specially iMessage and WhatsApp) originate from their phone. I for one rarely use Facebook on my PC or laptop - and consider it a prominent hindrance to my workflow. Does that mean I don't check my feeds? Of course not - I Facebook, Instagram, Tweet and catch up with Ray William Johnson - all from the comfort of my phone (even when I'm home).
Why am I telling you all this?
If I had a nickle for every time I saw a WordPress powered site that's not mobile responsive (I usually find them from Twitter) - I'd have.. well I didn't count, but I'd be rich. With all the many free plugins you have, you'd be the epitome of laziness for not activating mobile view.
Today's article is dedicated to listing some of the easiest ways to turn your non-responsive WordPress website into a mobile responsive one. Kindly bear in mind that I won't be covering plugins that give you responsive sliders, images, etc; instead, we will be discussing a few plugins, which would turn your WordPress site into a mobile responsive one. Right, so let's get started.
Beginning with the simplest and probably the most efficient way to turn your WordPress website into a mobile responsive layout - Jetpack lets you do this with just the click of a button. I bet that you have Jetpack installed if you're the "average" WordPress user. Simply click on "Jetpack" on the sidebar menu in your WordPress admin dashboard and you'll land on the Jetpack modules page. Look for "Mobile Theme" and click on activate. And you're done.
The best thing after Jetpack, WPTouch has been downloaded over 4.3 million times and lets you create a brilliant, customized mobile responsive website in a matter of minutes - without touching a single line of code! The premium version of this plugin - called WPTouch Pro boasts of an intuitive admin panel and great one-to-one ticketing support and best of all - neatly designed themes!
WPTouch » WPTouch Pro 3 »
WP Mobile Detector
What's nice about the WP Mobile Detector, is that it automatically detects if the visitor is using a standard mobile phone (Nokia, Samsung etc) or a smartphone, and loads a compatible WordPress mobile theme for each - from its 7 different pre-installed themes. Your site's images are also automatically re-sized according to its target device to display it correctly. In addition, WP Mobile Detector also supports WordPress widgets and provides statistics. Features in brief:
- Automatic detection of mobile devices from a massive database of over 5,000+ mobile devices
- Differentiates between standard mobile devices and advanced mobile devices
- Advanced mobile statistics including unique visitors, visits and mobile search engine bots
WP Mobile Detector »
WordPress Mobile Pack
WordPress Mobile Pack supports domain mapping and the user agent detects the most popular handheld devices before displaying the content on it. In addition, it includes a single theme, customizable in four different colors. There is a wide array of options available across multiple pages that might puzzle the entry-level WordPress user.
- A mobile switcher which lets users switch to desktop or mobile view
- A set of advanced themes for Nokia and WebKit devices, designed by Forum Nokia
- Custom color variations demonstrating how the themes can be easily tinted with CSS
- Device adaptation, including the re-scaling of images and intelligent splitting of articles and posts into multiple pages
- Mobile admin panel
- Mobile ad widget to easily enable mobile ads with AdMob or Google's Mobile Adsense
- Mobile analytics
- A barcode widget which adds a barcode to your desktop site so that devices with a suitable reader can quickly bookmark your mobile site
WP Mobile Edition
WP Mobile Edition is like the previous plugin's twin. It has the usual features like automatic theme switching, a standard mobile theme with 16 different colors and not-so-common but awesome ones like a comment system, support for DISQUS and a mobile XML sitemap generator with is great for SEO. The important feature to note here is that it uses a sub-domain, something like m.facebook.com which provides better cookie and caching support.
Wapple Architect Mobile Plugin
This awesome is written in WAPL, a unique markup language especially created to adjust, render, and deliver the website properly to all devices that access your website. It uses a better API to deduce the visitors device, which is more sophisticated than the common User Agent sniffing method. The result is then stored in the user's device (using cookies). Thus your URL structure remains unaffected. You get a simple solution that just works.
Not so big on the features front, but MobilePress is pretty popular because of its simplicity. It ships with two themes which can be further developed by advanced theme developers.
Duda Mobile Website Builder
Duda Mobile has been in the mobile website business for a very long time - the power over 4 million websites and have been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post, NY Times and other such prestigious websites. Their very simple and easy to useWordPress plugin quickly allows you to turn your website into a mobile-friendly webpage. It works with all WordPress themes and it automatically synchronizes up with your site. The picture speaks volumes about the plugin's performance!
Download Plugin » Visit Duda Mobile »
Now that we've mentioned some of the best free plugins, its time for the premium ones. One of the basic advantages of premium plugins is the support that is entitled to you, the buyer. Its a common trait found in all, followed by specialized features like pricing options, number of themes, design, etc.
Coming from one of the top developers, Obox Mobile is a great premium WordPress plugin with a plethora of features that mobilizes your WordPress site in a matter of minutes - although you might want to get accustomed with its features! Plans start at $79 USD for 5 websites and $139 USD for the unlimited websites deal. Do visit the plugin page for a full list of features - displayed rather beautifully.
Mobile by iThemes
Folks who're into exploring WordPress themes, iThemes needs no introduction. Not just themes, the folks at iThemes have a trait of WordPress awesomeness. From the maker of the killer Cart66 eCommerce plugin, comes another plugin that turns your WordPress website into a mobile responsive one. It supports a multitude of devices such as the Sony PSP, PS3, Wii and DS, including all major phone brands of course. The plugin is simple called "Mobile" but arms you with a tank's worth of features:
- Theme Style Manager — Easily customize basic styles for your mobile theme’s fonts, headlines, navigation and footer
- Built-in Custom Header Uploader — Upload and assign a unique mobile version of your header graphic
- Mobile Starter Themes — Choose from 4 customizable, ready-made themes or create your own
- Devices & Assigned Themes — Assign separate themes to specific platforms to customize the user experience for each device
- Custom Menus/Navigation
It costs $45 USD for 2 websites and $150 USD for the developer license. You could also get developer access to all 20 plugins from iThemes for a cool $247 USD.
We've listed 8 free and 2 premium plugins that helps you turn your WordPress site into a mobile-responsive one. Time for some advice. Of the free ones, you never know how frequently the plugin is going to be updated (to keep up with the latest WordPress revision). Therefore I would recommend using Jetpack's module. If a decent part of your traffic originates from Facebook, you can be certain that the at least 30-40% of that traffic is from mobile users. In which case I would recommend purchasing a premium theme as it would help build your site's brand.
What are your thoughts in a mobile responsive site? Let us know in the comments below!