How to Create a Mobile Version of Your WordPress Site
Contrary to popular belief, there is no point in producing a separate version of your website – from scratch – just for mobile, because you can simply incorporate a responsive design instead.
What is a responsive design exactly? It’s a web design technique that scales the site, layout and content appropriately to match the screen resolution of the device users are browsing on. This means that it doesn’t matter whether visitors are looking at your site with a desktop, mobile or tablet – the site will automatically scale to fit.
For example, you can see that this blog has responsive design enabled because, if you adjust your browser window to a smaller size, everything in the blog resizes to fit the new window. Note the lack of a horizontal scroll bar at the bottom of the window – that means that everything on the blog has been reformatted to fit the window perfectly.
So, how can you create a responsive, mobile WordPress site?
For the most part, any web designer can implement a responsive design but it does take a bit of extra time and effort. That’s one reason why WordPress is so fantastic. All of that extra work can be eliminated – and additional functionality can be unlocked – by installing a responsive theme or plugin.
If you’re looking to improve your WordPress-powered mobile website then plugins offer the easiest way to do that. Sorting through the massive catalog of plugins for WordPress can be daunting, to say the least. Not to mention the fact that there are usually several variants of the same plugin type, just adding to the general confusion.
To make things easier, I’ve compiled a list of plugins that will help you achieve that excellent mobile site you’ve been wanting.
1. Duda Mobile Website Builder
With Duda Mobile Website Builder, you can have a mobile version of your site up and running in no time. It works like a visual editor, allowing you to edit the layout of your mobile site with drag-and-drop mechanics. It’s easy to use, and it does a pretty good job of converting your regular site into a mobile one for you automatically. That being said, you can further customize aspects of the site so that they are to your liking.
Of course, the plugin also makes the following features available for your mobile site:
- Mobile Maps
- Business Hours
- Yelp Reviews
- Image Slider
- Photo Gallery
- Embed Videos
- Facebook Like Button
- Social Icons
It’s worth noting that you don’t have to incorporate or use all of the features listed, but they are available if you decide you need them.
Mobile websites built with the Duda plugin work on all Smartphones including Android, iOS and Blackberry devices.
2. WordPress Mobile Pack
The WordPress Mobile Pack does a whole lot more than just make your site responsive; it “appifies” your content. It takes your entire site and converts it into a mobile web app, compatible with all HTML5 enabled devices. Your site will work with Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone handsets after the conversion, and will even work with a whole slew of browsers such as Safari, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 10.
By using this plugin, you also gain access to the following features for your mobile app:
- Cross-Platform Access
- Responsive UI
- Multiple Themes
- Appearance Customization Options
- Posts Sync
- Comments Sync
- Add to Homescreen – users can add your app to their home screen just like a native mobile app
If you want to offer a mobile app to your customers, this plugin is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to do that. It doesn’t require advanced knowledge of mobile app design to finish the job either.
3. WPtouch 3
This plugin helps you take your site and convert it into a mobile and touch-friendly version. Touch-based controls are the standard for most Smartphones, but unfortunately many websites are not easy to use with them. Wptouch 3 will make your site more user-friendly by incorporating various elements usually found with touch compatible mobile apps and websites.
If users want to switch to your full desktop site, they can do so with the click of a button. This is also important because some visitors prefer to use the regular site, and every so often there are features that don’t convert over correctly.
The best part is that the plugin creates a new mobile theme for your site without editing or modifying any code from your desktop site. Of course, some of the WPtouch features are exclusive to the premium version of the plugin, which does require a paid subscription.
4. AppBuilder for WordPress
Similar to the WordPress Mobile Pack, appBuilder for WordPress turns your website into a web app that is friendly with HTML5 enabled mobile devices and several different browsers. Users can install your web app to their homescreen, just like native mobile apps. One of the biggest benefits of using a web app is that you don’t have to deal with shared revenue streams, as most app stores require you to give a percentage of your revenue to them. If you so desire, however, you can make your web app available through Google Play, the Apple App store, Windows Store or Blackberry World thanks to this plugin.
AppBuilder allows you to create and customize a mobile web app through drag-and-drop mechanics. The necessary code is added as you work, and you can preview changes in realtime.
When converted, your website will display in a responsive and touch-friendly version. Before you can get started, you will need to sign up for an app subscription key – it doesn’t cost anything except the time required to register.
Additional features include the following:
- Click-to-call and email buttons
- Install app to homescreen
- Rebranding of design and launch screens
- Multiple language support for menus and elements
- GPS Maps
- Location-based lists – nearby indicator
- Live social streams
- Embed videos
- Photo streams and galleries from Flickr, Picasa, Facebook and more
- Event listings from Google Calendar or Facebook
- Wufoo forms
- Realtime preview of site
There Are More Plugins Available
These are not the only web-to-mobile conversion plugins available for WordPress. Some runner-ups include WP Smart Mobile Theme and Mobiloud. Of course, you can browse for even more plugins across the web – but the ones listed here are some of the best.
Everything you need to create a responsive mobile site or mobile app in minutes is right there. When all is said and done, you want the finished product to work with as few hiccups as possible – after all, the app or site will be used by all of your customers – and the apps listed will do just that.