Whether or not you’re a smartphone user (and I still have a “dumbphone,” myself), there’s no denying that the Internet is going mobile. One of the great things about WordPress is the fact that you can create a mobile-friendly version of your site instantly by installing one of these plugins. (These are three that I’ve used, based on recommendations from colleagues; if you search the WordPress plugin repository for “mobile,” you’ll find several others.)
The darling of the moment is the WPtouch plugin for touch-screen devices like the iPhone. The developers describe it this way:
WPtouch automatically transforms your WordPress blog into a web-application experience when viewed from an iPhone, iPod touch or Android touch mobile device. It comes complete with all the standard WordPress blog features: search, login, categories, tags, archives, photos & more. WPtouch also offers many customization features through a beautifully designed WordPress admin panel.
I might say “overwhelming WordPress admin panel,” myself. Still, the list of known page and plugin support and conflicts is handy, and it’s probably worth taking the time to create custom iPhone icons for your pages. (There’s a tool you could really waste some time with.)
Not everyone has a touch-screen phone, however—much less an iPhone. But not to worry, there are plugins that cater to the needs of other kinds of mobile users.
When WordPress Mobile Edition and its Carrington Mobile theme came out, there was much rejoicing. The only difficulty with it was that because you had to put the mobile theme into the themes directory, you couldn’t use the automatic upgrade feature. (Well, you could, but then you had to go in with your FTP client and move the theme, so you might as well upgrade by FTP in the first place.) Given that the last upgrade was June 2009, it hasn’t been an issue recently. The plugin continues to work with WordPress 2.9, however.
As you can see from the two screenshots, Carrington Mobile provides a pretty bare-bones interface, even on the iPhone—but it’s conveniently uncluttered, and many phones don’t really support “sexy.”
On most of my own sites, I’ve replaced WordPress Mobile Edition with WordPress MobilePack. MobilePack is a dotMobi project that offers multiple mobile widget options and several mobile themes, automatic browser detection and a manual mobile switcher so you can see what your site looks like in those themes (or smartphone users can view the desktop version of your site if they prefer) and a mobile admin interface.
One additional advantage is that MobilePack works just fine with the automatic upgrade process. When you upgrade the plugin, it prompts you to upgrade the themes as well, which you can do with the click of a button. (To give Crowd Favorite credit, that might not have been possible before WordPress 2.8.) And MobilePack is still being actively updated.
Whichever plugin you choose, don’t ignore your mobile visitors. There are going to be more and more of them in the next few years.