One of the advantages of using WordPress for your business website is that there are many plugins freely available that provide additional functionality. One of the most valuable is WPTouch, a plugin that easily makes your site compatible with mobile devices such as the iPhone and Android based smartphones.
With a standard HTML website, typically the only option available with most web design software and do-it-yourself online templates, your only option for mobile compatibility is to add a special script to your site. This script can automatically detect the visitor’s browser and computer platform, known as a user agent report sent to your site’s server by the web browser in use. When this report informs your website’s server that a mobile device’s browser is being used, the script simply redirects the visitor to an alternative page, most often a subdomain like m.domainname.com, mobile.domainname.com or even domainname.com/mobile. This means that you now have two versions of your website you have to keep updated.
Another option is to have the script simply tailor your current site to make it compatible with mobile browsers. This involves automatically resizing images and blocking other items that simply aren’t supported on most mobile platforms (e.g., Flash animations). Obviously, this is the better option because you don’t have to maintain two versions of every web page on your site; however, you will have to know how to create such a script and implement it in your web host account.
If you’re using WordPress as the platform for your website, WPTouch offers the simplest solution. Just login to your WordPress site with your administrative account and head over to the Plugins page. Click the Add New button and search for WPTouch. The full name of the plugin is WPTouch iPhone Theme, but don’t let the name fool you. It works equally well with Android, BlackBerry, WebOS and Symbian based mobile devices as well. Once you click the Install Now link and activate the plugin, you will see a new WPTouch option available in the Settings panel. From this new screen, you can set all the features you wish to use, including the new theme’s color scheme, default page icons, categories and many other options. Once you save all your settings, you can simply use your own mobile device to navigate to your website and preview the new look.
WPTouch is a plugin, but it actually applies a new theme that is optimized for mobile browsers; however, this is only done per session when a mobile platform is detected. Your normal theme is still applied when the site is viewed with a normal browser on a desktop or notebook system. The mobile theme displays your web pages with a more app-like interface, using a drop down field as a table of contents. There’s even an option at the bottom of the page to switch to the normal view if desired. (Note, the plugin developer’s website also offers a paid version that includes more advanced features).
In summary, WPTouch for WordPress is by far the easiest way to guarantee the widest exposure of your site. More and more consumers are trading in their notebooks, and even desktops, for mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad and smartphones running on the Android and other mobile operating systems. People like the ability to access the Internet while on the go, and these devices make it much easier to do so. If your site takes too long to load, or simply isn’t viewable on a mobile device, you could be missing your opportunity to gain a customer. So do yourself a favor and use this plugin to ensure your business is not left out of this ever increasing market space!
Figure 1: Sample website viewed on an Android based smartphone in
both normal (zoomed to fit page width) and mobile views