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Are You (and Your WordPress Blog) Ready to Go Mobile?

Should you go mobile with your blog?

[This post is part of theĀ Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog series.]

One of the questions that I’ve gotten a lot is whether or not I recommend having your blog be mobile-friendly – that is, adjusting your blog to know when someone is viewing it on a mobile device (Android, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, etc) and altering the design and features for an optimized viewing experience.

My most simple answer is this: I believe that you should always seek to give your readers the easiest and most natural viewing experience possible!

But, I also believe that you need to make as informed a decision on how you go about doing that without sacrificing your overall experience that you’re trying to communicate besides the content.

This is the key thing to remember always: A mobile version of your blog always changes your viewers experience. Your goal is to make sure it’s such a positive increase that it’s worth it.

For some bloggers I completely recommend not providing a mobile-only experience since their design is an intimate part of the content experience. For others the impact is significantly less and it doesn’t matter if they did or did not have a mobile-optimized version.

So, for your edification I’ve collected some of the more well-known and better systems for your perusal and research, but before that here are some key things that you’ll want to consider as you do your research (and you definitely should):

10 Key Considerations That You Can’t Ignore:

  1. Plugin “Footprint” – Does the plugin, itself, cost a lot of performance for your blog to use? Some services can tax your system more than actually create enough benefit offset.
  2. Plugin/Service Requirements – What does your blog and/or your hosting provider need to be able to run this optimally? Are you capable of running/managing the service optimally?
  3. Blog Optimization – Is your current blog optimized enough (or not enough) to simply provide a cohesive and effective user experience already?
  4. Design – Does this service and/or plugin offer design customization? How limited or open is it?
  5. Branding – How much 3rd party branding is there? Is it littered with advertisements for the company that built the system?
  6. Engagement – How does the service handle engagement, specifically comments and pingbacks?
  7. Sharing – Does this service offer native sharing capabilities for continued traffic expansion? Do you lose this with your mobile plugin?
  8. Device Versatility – How many devices does this impact? Is it only for a certain type of handset/device or is more of a global “catch” for “most” devices?
  9. Community – How will this impact your community? Will they appreciate it? Will they reject it? Do they even need it, really?
  10. Research – Have you confidently researched all your options? What are your knowledge gaps?

You see, ultimately you’re going to want to ask yourself the serious question of whether or not you truly need it. Many people blindly believe that we live in a “mobile world” and thus you absolutely need a mobile-ready blog to be competitive or “up to date”. I categorically deny this idea because many top tier blogs have done their research both technologically and from a community perspective and opted not to do it.

I know even for myself that I’ve opted not to use one (at this time) until I either find the best one for my particular needs (there isn’t one out there… yet) or when I find enough time to build one myself.

Don’t just do it because you heard someone else has done it – there’s a strong possibility that they didn’t put much thought behind it either.

The (Growing) List of Mobile Services and Plugins for WordPress:

Here is a list of well-known and well-worn and used services and plugins that have found popularity among many bloggers.

Please note that this list is not comprehensive since there are about literally tons of services that I personally think just suck and I’ve decided to save you some time by vetting these for you.

I will admit that I’ve opted to list them in order of most-used and most attractive to me but don’t forget to do your research!

  1. WordPress Mobile Edition – Hasn’t been updated in a while but still kicks massive booty.
  2. MobilePress – One of the best free choices out there.
  3. WPTouch Free – This one’s just as good as MobilePress. In fact, they are pretty much tied in my book. I mean, nearly 2,000,000 downloads isn’t too shabby.
  4. OnSwipe – A new player that’s still in BETA but that’s been supported directly by WordPress themselves. Keep your eye on this one.
  5. Mobify – The “big boys” use this and it’s awesome. It’s free for smaller sites but it scales into a pricing model if you get serious. And if you’re at that point anyway then you can probably afford it.
  6. WPtouch Pro – They say it’s completely re-written of the free version above with new features but for most people you may not want to drop the green to sport it. It’s still a very good choice for those that want to invest a little.
  7. WordPress Mobile Pack – The customization options are awesome on this one. For designers/developers who want to add their own touch of awesome.
  8. BAAP Mobile Version – Almost a carbon-copy of WordPress Mobile Pack above but apparently more updated.
  9. WordPress PDA and iPhone – An ok alternative that I’ve seen used well.
  10. Mobilize – This one’s been around for a bit and although it hasn’t been updated I’ve used it for a few clients. It’s on the bottom though.

Of course, let me know if I’m missing any (or if any are deprecated – plugins “die” all the time).

A few other mobile-related plugins and apps that you should know about:

  1. WordPress for iOS
  2. WordPress for Windows Phone 7
  3. WordPress for Android
  4. WordPress for BlackBerry
  5. WordPress for Nokia
  6. Mobile Admin – If you don’t like the WordPress Mobile Apps listed above you could always use this plugin to help manage your blog from a mobile device.
  7. W3C MobileOk Checker – A great service that tests the level of your blog’s mobile-readiness. You should pretty much fail this test if you don’t have a mobile plugin or service running. Not a bad thing though if you’ve determined not to use one!
  8. WordPress Multi Site Mobile Edition – This plugin hasn’t been updated in a while so I’d tread with caution here but it apparently still works for many users. Could be a good place of comparison if you need to make your Multi-User platform mobile.

So that’s that! Love to hear your thoughts and experiences using some of these and if you think I’m missing one!

Let’s hear it!

[This post is part of theĀ Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog series.]