A large percentage of internet users now browse the internet using smartphones or tablets; which is why it is so important that your WordPress design caters towards mobile users.
There are many case studies that illustrate how mobile usage is increasing, though it is better to see this for yourself by examining your own traffic. For example, Google Analytics shows that over the last month, 84.35% of visitors to my blog used a desktop or laptop computer, 10.91% used a mobile phone, and 4.73% used a tablet.
Mobile usage is much higher on my other websites. On Black Belt Forums, for example, Google Analytics shows that 33.10% of visitors from the last month were using a mobile phone and 11.72% used a tablet. That represents almost 45% of all traffic for the website.
Long story short, you cannot afford to give your mobile visitors a poor browsing experience. You need to give them the same attention as desktop users.
In this article, I would like to show how some useful WordPress plugins that can help you do just that.
HandHeld – (Elegant Themes Membership)
Our handheld mobile plugin delivers a responsive HTML5 design to your mobile visitors. It looks great on any smartphone operating system including iOS, Android, Windows, and Blackberry.
In the settings area you can upload your website logo and add unique icons for iOS and Windows phones. You can also add an introduction to your mobile home page and select which blog categories are included. The number of posts displayed can also be modified.
The plugin allows you to change the background color of the mobile theme. You can also customize the theme further by creating a child theme and then selecting it in the settings area.
Once you have activated the plugin, mobile visitors will view your content using a clean, colorful design. HandHeld Mobile Plugin is available to all of our developer and lifetime license holders and can be downloaded from your member area.
WP Touch (FREE / $49)
With over five million downloads, WP Touch is by far the most popular mobile plugin for WordPress. It allows you to display a mobile design to selected mobile user-agents. You can also stop shortcodes from being activated when someone views your content on a mobile phone.
The plugin comes with a stylish theme called Bauhaus. You can change all aspects of the theme including theme colors, your website logo, icons, fonts, and social media sharing icons.
Through the settings area you can change the number of posts that are displayed and exclude specific categories and tags. You can also enable thumbnails and decide what meta information is displayed.
The home page of the mobile design features a beautiful slider. It can display all posts, posts from a specific tag, or posts from a specific category. You can also specify the exact posts and pages that are displayed on the slider.
The pro version of WP Touch retails from $49 and comes with four additional themes. It also features three extensions: A caching extension, a responsive image extension, and an extension that lets you display content specifically to mobile visitors.
WP Mobile Detector Mobile Plugin (FREE / $50)
WP Mobile Detector has the ability of detecting whether a visitor is viewing your website using a basic phone or a smartphone. It can automatically detect up to 5,000 mobile devices and then deliver a suitable theme.
For basic mobile phones, the plugin will remove all images and advanced HTML so that your pages load quickly. For smartphones, it will automatically resize images that are too large for the display. Statistics are provided for both kinds of visitors so that you can see a breakdown of each type of visitor.
The plugin does not offer many configuration options. You can only choose whether statistics are recorded, whether a credit link is displayed, whether a dashboard widget is displayed, and whether the mobile theme is displayed on tablet devices.
On a positive note, the plugin does come with five mobile themes pre-installed; however some of the designs are a little basic when compared to other mobile themes available elsewhere.
The pro version of WP Mobile Detector costs $50. It comes with an additional five mobile themes and an interactive theme editor. This version also supports mobile advertising.
Jetpack by WordPress.com (FREE)
It should be no surprise to you that Automattic’s Jetpack plugin has a mobile module. Once activated, your website will display a theme optimized for mobiles to anyone who views your website using a mobile device.
The design of the Jetpack mobile theme looks great. It has a beautiful clean design that places a menu at the top of the page.
Unfortunately, the mobile theme has very few options. It only allows you to decide whether excerpts or full posts are displayed on the front page and archives. Hopefully, a future version will allow you to at least change the color scheme so that you can modify the style to match your website.
WP Smart Mobile Theme Plugin (FREE)
WP Smart Mobile Theme Plugin is one of my favorite solutions for adding a mobile theme. It will display a mobile theme to people who browse your website using iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows.
It features a professional settings area that lets you upload your logo, enable search, enable thumbnails, and choose what page is displayed on your home page. Google Analytics and Google Adsense can be integrated into your mobile design too. Alternatively, you can choose a custom solution for stats and advertising.
Three beautiful mobile themes are included with the plugin. Through the settings area, you can change the background colors and fonts colors. You can also specify the menu that is used with the mobile design.
WP Smart Mobile Theme Plugin is a great way of displaying a mobile theme to visitors. Best of all; it is 100% free to use.
WiziApp (FREE / $69)
WiziApp is a versatile plugin that lets you display an HTML5 powered mobile theme to mobile visitors. It lets you select whether your mobile theme is shown to mobile visitors, tablet visitors, or both. You can also upload a home screen icon and choose the navigation menu that is used. Google Analytics and Google Adsense can also be integrated via the settings area.
Themes can be modified through the WordPress theme customizer in the same way you would modify a desktop theme. From there, you can change what meta information is displayed on your mobile theme including thumbnails, featured posts, authors, publication date, and more.
The plugin comes with a mobile theme entitled Smooth Touch. Seven additional themes are available at a price of $49 each. Alternatively, you can pay $69 per year for access to all themes, remove branding, and receive technical support.
WiziApp also offer an app service. $149 per year will allow you to create your own Android application that is submitted to Google play. An app for iPhones and iPads will cost you $299 per year and includes submission to the Apple app store. Both app options allow unlimited push notifications to users.
MobilePress is a simple WordPress plugin that lets you display a mobile friendly version of your website. It lets you display your latest blog posts, or a page, on your mobile home page. You can also enable thumbnails, categories, and comments.
The plugin comes with one mobile theme. It is basic in many respects, however I think it looks good when thumbnails are displayed. You can specify another theme through the settings area.
MobilePress is a no-thrills plugin that will appeal to those of you are looking for a minimalist WordPress mobile theme.
Wapple Architect is a feature packed WordPress plugin that gives you complete control over your mobile theme. Few plugins allow you to customize your theme in the way that Wapple does.
It allows you to add image headers and footers, resize images dynamically, redirect mobile visitors, and add an option for users to switch to the desktop design. You can also integrate Google Anayltics.
Several themes are included with the plugin. A custom theme is also included that allows you to modify the stylesheet directly from the settings area.
Wapple Architect is perfect for those of you who want full control over what is displayed on your mobile design.
Obox Mobile ($35)
Obox Mobile is a professional mobile plugin that features a post slider, social media sharing, and advertising support. It allows you to design the home page of your mobile theme through widgets.
The settings area lets you upload a logo for your mobile theme, add custom CSS, and change the colors of buttons and backgrounds.
The mobile theme looks fantastic. It has a clean style that highlights images. The theme is also optimized for high pixel density devices.
Obox Mobile provides a great looking mobile theme and strikes a good balance of features and customization.
Mobiloud is a premium service that allows you to create a native website app for Android and/or iOS. It is a good option if you want to present a professional image and enhance the reading experience for visitors.
The plugin can automatically convert your website content into an app. This app can then be added to Apple’s app store and Google’s Play store. It supports WordPress, DISQUS, and Facebook comments. It also supports mobile advertising options such as Google Adsense and Admob.
The app looks stunning. It is optimized for quickly navigating through your content and allows readers to save content to read offline later. It also supports push notifications so that subscribers receive a notification when a new post is published.
All this functionality comes at a price. Their cheapest plan costs $540 per year for an Android or iOS app. If you want both apps, you will need to pay $960 per year. Alternatively, you can pay for a lifetime license. That costs $849 per app or $1,499 for both apps. You then need to pay $150 per year to continue receiving updates, support, and push notifications.
Mobiloud is not cheap and is clearly targeted towards highly profitable websites; however there is no doubt it gives readers a fantastic user experience.
Mobile CSS (FREE / $17)
Mobile CSS is a fantastic plugin that lets you specify CSS rules for phones, tablets, or all mobile devices. Exact rules can be specified for a range of devices. In total, it supports unique styling of eighteen tablet devices and thirteen phones.
Mobile CSS Pro extends the functionality of the plugin and allows you to target fourteen specific user agents and fifteen types of browser. I recommend trying it out if you are looking to optimize your existing mobile theme.
WordPress Mobile Website Builder Plugin lets you create a mobile theme for your website in minutes. It lets you design your theme by dragging and dropping items into a page builder.
Elements include a header, image, social media links, divider, and list. Each element can be customized further once you have dragged it into the design.
The plugin retails at $18 from CodeCanyon. Once purchased, you can use the plugin on an unlimited number of websites. It is one of the only plugins that lets you create your own unique style through a user-friendly interface.
Auto Mobile Theme Switcher (FREE)
Auto Mobile Theme Switcher is a simple WordPress plugin that lets you designate a theme for tablet users and a theme for mobile users.
It is a useful plugin if you want to use a theme designed specifically for mobile devices. For example, you could display the minimal theme mobile to people who view your website using a smartphone.
Mobile Smart (FREE / $13)
Mobile Smart is another plugin that lets you display a theme of your choosing for mobile and tablet users. Agent detection can be enabled so that mobile visitors are automatically directed to your mobile theme. Alternatively, you can display a manual switcher that allows visitors to switch themes themselves.
Mobile Smart Pro is available from CodeCanyon for $13. It allows you to enable a mobile theme for anyone that visits your mobile sub domain. It also lets you display content exclusively to mobile visitors.
Mobile Content is a mobile detection plugin with a twist. Rather than displaying a particular theme to mobile visitors, it allows you to wrap content inside device specific shortcodes. This lets you specify certain content to desktop users, and other content for tablet users and mobile users.
The plugin also lets you display content depending on a user’s operating system or device e.g. kindle or HTC phone.
I like many of these plugins for different reasons. I love HandHeld for its child theme support, WP Touch for its ease of use and number of options, and WP Smart Mobile and Obox Mobile for their designs. I would also consider Mobiloud if I ran a high traffic blog that could financially justify the cost of the service.
I hope you found this list of mobile plugins for WordPress useful. If so, I encourage you to subscribe to Elegant Themes for free updates on our latest blog posts and news.
As always, I recommend doing your own research before choosing a plugin so that you select one that matches your website’s style and needs. Please also feel free to share any good mobile plugins for WordPress in the comment area below 🙂
Article thumbnail image by PureSolution / shutterstock.com