3 of the Best WordPress Plugins to Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly

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The mobile web is growing exponentially. If your website doesn’t support mobile phones and tablets now, you can guarantee it’ll become increasingly important over the coming years.

But what if you own one of the 13 million sites running on WordPress? I recently required a plugin which:

  1. worked on WordPress 3.1
  2. could be used without registration
  3. could be installed on a development server
  4. offered mobile device detection as well as custom themes
  5. wasn’t a system which simply forwarded users to an online mobilization service.

Surprisingly, there are very few plugins which match this criteria. Fortunately, I found 3 good options which could help you mobilize your website.

1. WP Mobile Detector

WP Mobile Detector

WP Mobile Detector from Websitez.com provides a simple way to adapt your site for mobiles in a couple of clicks. Unlike other plugins which target a handful of popular gadgets, WP Mobile Detector supports more than 5,000 web-enabled phones, smartphones, tablets and small-screen devices. The other features are no less impressive:

  • 9 mobile themes are included
  • content is automatically formatted and images are resized for the target device
  • WordPress widgets are supported
  • multilingual sites can be created
  • the plugin records access statistics to help you identify traffic from basic and advanced mobiles.

The free version of WP Mobile Detector is available from WordPress.org. A professional edition featuring a real-time interactive theme editor is available from Websitez.com. Prices start from $49.95.

2. WordPress Mobile Pack

WordPress Mobile Pack

The WordPress Mobile Pack is a comprehensive plugin which gives fine-grained control over your mobile website. The most popular devices can be identified by user agent or domain mapping. A single elegant theme is provided although it’s available in four different color schemes.

The WordPress Mobile Pack is a great plugin, although I suspect some people may be overwhelmed by the array of options distributed across several pages. Now and again, I also found it switched me to mobile view while using the administration panels.

The free WordPress Mobile Pack is available from WordPress.org.

3. MobilePress

WordPress MobilePress

Finally, we have MobilePress. Although WordPress.org reports it’s compatible up to version 2.8.6, I didn’t have any trouble installing and running it in v3.1.

MobilePress is the simplest plugin here and provides few options. However, it’s one of the easiest to use and test since you can force your site into mobile view rather than using a real mobile device or domain mapping.

Two mobile themes are provided although I couldn’t see much difference between them? Fortunately, help is provided for developers who want to create their own alternatives.

MobilePress is developed by Aduity, a company providing advertising solutions for mobile phones. You don’t need to use that feature but it’s available should you require it.

The free MobilePress plugin is available from WordPress.org and mobilepress.co.za.

Have you discovered better WordPress mobile plugins? All comments welcome.

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  • Travis White

    Just wondering if you tried the WordPress Mobile Theme Framework from Obox Design – http://www.obox-design.com/wpmobile.cfm – I’ve heard it’s quite good but haven’t tried it yet

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Hi Travis.

      No, I hadn’t seen that one. It’s a commercial theme rather than a plugin though. I don’t know whether it recognizes mobile devices and changes the theme accordingly?

      • http://twitter.com/ScottSawyer Scott Sawyer

        We are getting ready to start a mobile WordPress site and looking at existing solutions, I appreciate to post. Although, I am a little disappointed with your discoveries. It seems the solutions are not as robust as what I am accustomed to with Drupal solutions. Somewhat ironic that this site is not using a mobile solution :)

  • Cameron Bailey

    I am using WP Touch and it works well for me.

    • Greg Raven

      Ditto. I heard it was the plug-in used on WordPress.com so I gave it a try. It was the best of the four free mobile plug-ins I tried.

  • Håkan Mitts

    The main problem with using these plugins is that they are – just – plugins. As long as this kind of functionality is not rolled into WordPress proper, mobile access will not really thrive.
    If WP had this functionality built in, then we might see a lot more meaningful community action around mobile.
    Just take themes as an example. If there was a widely used (read: in WP) mobile plugin, then theme designers might be interested in providing a mobile version of their theme. Now you are pretty much left to CSS which for me is harder than I would like.
    An other issue is support for other plugins. It would be great if other plugings behaved nicely with mobile. Now its mainly luck if you find a combination that works well. Again, if there was a standard WP way, it would be much more likele that plugin developers also tested their other plugins for mobile.
    So if you are really serious about WP and mobile, let’s all gang together and make a wish for mobile integrated into WP proper! That might really boost the mobile WP ecosystem to a new level!
    In the meanwhile I’m using Wapple (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wapple-architect/) which meets my needs best at this time. WP Touch also has some good features, but I kind of dislike the fact that the default main page is so dull and that it has such as strong iPhone taste to it that in my view it does not sit so well with other devices.

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Thanks Håkan – some interesting ideas there. I agree WP would benefit from integrated device detection and themes. A CSS-only approach is possible but flawed because you’re still sending the same HTML to every device.

      These plugins do help in that respect. However, it’s unfortunate that many developers concentrate on iPhone-only support. iPhones have a small share of the mobile market and, ironically, they have good browser which can view most web pages anyway.

      • Art-multimedia

        There are so many mobile devices and as many operating systems, it is simply impossible to keep them all in mind. I would like to turn things around and ask the mobile market to create a standard platform because it is currently unworkable.

      • Håkan Mitts

        Just to clarify, didn’t mean that the CSS-only approach would be the right solution (alone) for mobile support/plugin in general, just that I am currently forced to style my mobile interface with CSS and the likes (which I’m not good at and theremore my mobile interface look-and-feel sucks).
        If there was a great mobile plugin as standard in WP, then I’m sure there would soon be a very nice ecosystem around that one:
        – themes that would support (out of the box) mobile with the same look and feel as the desktop
        – mobile support in more theme frameworks
        – plugins that have been tested to work with mobile
        – new and wonderful stuff that I cannot even dream of today
        Such a development would easily position WP as the leading platform for mobile, hint, hint, WP community.

  • Jonathan

    I’ve pretty happy with the WPtouch plugin. It’s got a good number of options, but it isn’t nearly as complicated as the Mobile Pack.
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wptouch/

    • Frank

      Did you know that the WPTouch plugin only supports a select number of smart phones?

      Most blogs these days can have upwards of 50% of their traffic coming from phones that aren’t supported by WPTouch.

      It is also harmful to a blogs mobile SEO to use the WPTouch plugin because it does not follow the guidelines set out for the Google mobilebot.

      • Art-multimedia

        Upward 50%? Common, be serious. ;-)
        Perhaps if you sell ringtones or on tourism sites. I get 0.1% from mobiles.

      • Frank

        I am serious. Worldwide, that is a fact.

      • http://www.onsman.com Ricky Onsman

        It seems to me Frank is saying that of the traffic to blogs coming from phones, upwards of 50% comes from phones that don’t support WPTouch.

        That’s not to say that 50% or more of traffic coming to blogs comes from phones.

        So in Art-multimedia’s case, that would be 50%+ of 0.1% of all traffic.

  • RavanH
    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      No – I missed that one. Unfortunately, it only supports one theme at this time.

      • RavanH

        That’s true… but I’m working on supporting more mobile themes so hopefully you’ll keep an eye on it ;)

  • http://lutrov.com Ivan Lutrov

    Do any of these plugins allow you to tailor your copywriting for mobile devices? If they don’t, they have limited usefulness if you’re using WordPress for a business website.

  • http://techiebug.com kishore

    Some plugin developers inserting their own adsense code in place of blog owners core. We should take care of this issues. Anyway thanks for the plugin list.