According to the Pew Research Center, as of January of 2013, 45% of American adults own a smart phone. In April of 2012, 55% of them used the internet on their phones, which was nearly double the rate of three years ago. Facebook currently has more than 100 million users on its mobile platform across a variety of devices. Ever since the dawn of the iPhone, mobile computing has reached a new standard, and having mobile-friendly content is more important now than in previous years. Check out these tips for getting your website content ready for the small screen.
Mobile-Friendly Plugins and Themes
Making the transition to mobile will be easiest for those already using popular CMS’s like WordPress or Joomla. If you are using WordPress, WPTouch allows you to change your content for mobile users on iOS, Android, and other popular mobile platforms — no more itty-bitty menus and using the pinch-to-zoom method on i-devices. With the plugin, users can customize the way their content looks for users accessing the site via mobile devices. Some other WordPress plugins to try include WordPress Mobile Edition and WordPress Mobile Pack.
If you are using Joomla, there are also a variety of plugins to make your traditional site mobile-friendly. Mobile Joomla is an extension that translates all your previously hard-to-see content into an easy-to-read format. The extension optimizes itself depending on what device is accessing your site, and it leverages the strengths of that particular device. There is a free version of the extension, but it lacks support and is full of advertising. If you sign up for the 8 dollar per month subscription, the advertisements disappear, plus you gain access to some extra features and support. There are also a lot of other extensions for displaying your Joomla site on mobile devices.
If you haven’t started development acitvities on a site yet, and you plan on using a CMS, there are tons of responsive themes for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and numerous other popular content management systems. I don’t like to draw attention to specific themes because there are so many, and the type that you choose should be driven by the goals for your site. I can, however, offer some tips of things to look for when choosing your responsive theme. No matter what you choose or what CMS you use, make sure the theme you select is designed to work for the version of CMS you will have or currently have. Avoid free themes for WordPress and Joomla (and most likely for other CMS’s, as well). This may not be true for all free themes, but for most that I have seen, free comes with strings attached. For instance, the themes and their associated files may be poorly designed. They may contain unwanted links that could cause you issues down the road. They could also (and often do) contain advertisements, links to spammy sites or difficult-to-remove code that you certainly don’t want. I can also recommend a couple of different websites that offer good themes and reasonable prices. For WordPress, check out Elegant Themes. For Joomla, AS Templates has a lot of good choices and excellent documentation for all of their themes.
If you aren’t using a CMS and have a custom-designed website, have no fear! There are some really cool tools out there to help you. Tekora, for example, is a software as a service (SaaS) provider that helps webmasters build mobile websites easily. GoMobi is another such provider, and both can help businesses that may not be able to just download a plugin or a theme to make their website mobile-friendly.
Should I go Mobile?
I have heard people ask this question before, and the fast answer is, it depends. Like any action we take in business, our decisions should be based on solid data that tells us what to do. Sometimes data is not available, but in the world of web marketing, data is abundant and it is also very targeted. If you have been tracking your site (and you should be), take a look at how many visitors come from mobile devices. There are bound to be at least a few, so does this warrant making your site mobile-friendly? Probably not unless the task of doing so is extremely easy and won’t take much time. If you do have a lot of traffic coming from mobile devices, perhaps it is time you think about how those visitors’ experiences are being affected by your site not being mobile-friendly.
Are you planning on building a mobile version of your website? Have you already done it? If so, what challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?