Did you know that over half the Internet traffic in the United States come from mobile phones? By this statistic, more than half the people who visit your blog do so from their smartphone.
One of the primary ways of blog promotion is social media. When was the last time you opened Facebook from your desktop? Okay maybe you did that at work today.
But the point is, sites like Facebook and Twitter have gone mobile – at least for consumers like us. Chances are you’re reading this blog post from your phone or tablet. Not to mention the fact that you’ve received this blog post via a newsletter, feed or social media.
As a blog owner, can you really afford to not pay attention to your mobile readers? Chances are that they’re your most loyal readers. Why? Simply because they chose to read your content using the most chaotic device in the planet.
If you want to establish your business and make money from your site, you’re going to have to embrace the power of mobile.
Okay, that came out cheesy. Let’s continue. So you’ve picked WordPress as your blogging platform. Great. You’ve got a kickass WordPress theme that’s responsive, mobile-ready and even has retina display support.
Here’s the catch. A lot these so called “awesome mobile themes” aren’t really that awesome. More than often they are poorly coded, have the weirdest alignment issues in their mobile version (which, by the way are impossible to solve without the developer’s help) and downright slow when loading in mobile.
Remember, a visitor is more likely to leave your website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds. With mobile, that timeframe of 3 seconds is steadily decreasing. In fact, I think you’d agree when I say that the two resources that are depleting by the day is time and attention.
So in the spirit of happy mobile reading, I’ve compiled this list of amazing mobile optimization plugins for WordPress. In other words, these plugins will enable you to build a truly awesome mobile version of your WordPress site. Let’s get started!
1. The Mobile Theme Module by Jetpack
I’ve talked about how awesome Jetpack is in one of my old posts. And it looks like we’re going to talk about Jetpack again. As you know Jetpack is a plugin developed by the same fine folks behind WordPress. The plugin offers a butt-load of features that’s individually applicable to a diverse set of audience.
One such module is called the Mobile Theme. Once activated, this Jetpack module overrides your active theme’s mobile version. In other words, when a user visits your site via a mobile, the Jetpack Mobile theme takes over.
Rest assured, this theme follows only the best SEO standards, is made out of the most optimized pieces of code, loads in a jiffy and is outright beautiful to look at! Oh and of course, it’s free.
2. WordPress Mobile Pack
This plugin packs some serious guns when it comes to creating a mobile website. Normally a plugin renders a mobile compatible version of an existing website. This plugin goes the extra mile and creates an entire web application using the latest HTML5 technologies.
If you’re unclear on a mobile site and a web-app, this might help. If you’ve used Facebook Lite on the stock Android browser, that’s a mobile site. If you’re using a recent version of Chrome on your phone, you’ll be served with Facebook’s web app.
Web apps are much more fluid in terms of UI and UX, they have offline synching, saving capabilities, and works across all platforms inclusion iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS and Android.
One of the coolest features of WordPress Mobile Pack is that it allows you to selectively sync different posts, pages and comments based on the target device. It also offers a premium version (starting at EUR 7.99/month) which has better customization and theming capabilities, integration with Google Analytics and ad-networks like Google AdSense and DoubleClick, offline synchronization, and a ton of other awesome features.
3. WPtouch Mobile Plugin
Dubbed the “original” WordPress mobile plugin, WPtouch converts your existing WordPress theme into a beautiful, fluid mobile template upholding the mobile site design guidelines recommended by Google.
The premium version of the plugin – WPtouch Pro offers a variety of enhanced themes for blogs, businesses, and WooCommerce specific themes.
You can also buy additional extensions that add rich advertising options, web-app mode (similar to WordPress Mobile Pack), “mobile-only” content, advanced web typography, mobile site caching, and more. These extensions range from 10-20$ and offers you the flexibility of purchasing them individually based on your need – thereby giving you better control over your budget.
While some may argue that pricing a related posts plugin at 15$ is a bit too much, an alternate train of thought might suggest that this vastly improves the quality work of produced.
WPtouch Pro starts at $88/year for a single site license, which includes extensions like Basic Ads, Related Posts and Web-App mode.
4. Any Mobile Theme Switcher
This nifty little plugin is incredibly useful for folks who simply want to load different themes for mobile and desktop. The Any Mobile Theme Switcher plugin recognizes Android smartphones and tables, iPhones and iPads, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry OS. You can select a different mobile theme for each of the devices above.
The premium version of the plugin ($10 USD) lets you display different home pages based on the incoming visitor’s mobile device! It also displays a QR code on the desktop version of your site for mobile bookmarking and is compatible with W3 Total Cache.
Another interesting feature of the premium version is that it converts any existing phone numbers on your site into “click to call” phone numbers. This feature is a hidden gem for local businesses as it might vastly improve conversions.
5. Obox Mobile – WordPress Mobile Plugin
Designed by the team that brought us Layers WP, the Obox Mobile WordPress plugin offers advanced mobile customization features such as:
- The visual customizer for the mobile theme
- A widgetized home page which lets you better arrange your content in the home screen)
- A pop-out left sidebar which gives your visitors a “web-app like feeling”
This is a premium plugin priced at $40, which includes lifetime updates and 6 months of exclusive support from the Obox team.
This plugin detects over 5000 devices and enable you to serve highly specific content based on the visitor’s incoming device. Although it is unlikely that you’d create 5000 variations of the same content, it doesn’t hurt to have options.
The free version of WP Mobile Detector comes with 11 mobile-friendly themes designed for various types of businesses from simple blogs to enterprises to eCommerce stores. The premium version of the plugin starting at $50 has features such as interactive mobile theme editor, ad integration, visitor tracking and more.
A Few Other Tips
Building a mobile site is easy. Building a mobile site that converts isn’t.
Our objective in this article is to show you how to optimize your WordPress mobile website. We’ve been through the list of plugins. Now let us take a look at few more tips.
The images in your WordPress theme must be responsive. This means that they should be readjusted as the size of the viewport is changed.
For example if I switch from portrait to landscape mode, or change the width of my desktop browser, the images should adapt accordingly, similar to the theme. WordPress should not load different sizes of the images when I’m switching view modes without refreshing the page.
Good news is WordPress 4.4 comes with in-built support for responsive images. If you’re using an old theme, ensure that the developer updates it. Check if the responsive property of images is working. If not, then it’s better to use a theme that was recently updated.
WordPress automatically creates optimized versions of your images in different sizes. You can optimize your new and existing images in your WordPress site using the popular EWWW Image Optimizer WordPress plugin. It supports batch lossy or lossless compression of images in JPG or PNG formats.
WP Smush is another image optimization plugin developed by WPMU team which promises 2x better compression with their premium version. However, the free version limits the max input image size to 1MB.
Defer Loading of Images
However the optimized images still take time to load. In order to minimize the data transfer and improve the site loading time, you could use the BJ Lazy Load plugin.
Test Your Mobile Site
Google has its very own mobile-friendly site tester that gives you personalized recommendations based on what’s missing in your site.
Once you’ve optimized your site for mobile view, it’s time to put it to test. If the outcome is good, you’re good to go! Pat yourself on the back. However if the results are negative, simply work on the suggested changes and you’ll be good to go.
Every single study conducted in the field of mobile trends unanimously conclude the fact that it’s only going to grow – exponentially. Google has already started using mobile usability as an important ranking factor. Let’s make sure we’re on the winning side!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this article. I’ve been away for a while with a new job in a new city. Looking forward to contribute more to WPExplorer real soon! As always, if you have any questions or suggestions please tweet at @souravify! Happy mobile reading!