WordPress Mobile Solutions
Illustration by John Hersey

WordPress Mobile Solutions

with Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Video: Experiencing the (not so) mobile web

If I ask you how you access the web these days, I bet your answer will be something like, with my phone, or with my tablet, long before it is on my Desktop computer. With introduction of Smartphones and tablets, the way people visit and interact with the web has changed completely. In the past, the web was focused mainly on desktop computers with ever larger screens. Now the web needs to focus on the exact opposite, mobile computers and smaller screens. Using WordPress to create your web site, you have several options when it comes to dealing with this new mobile hurdle, but before we look at these options, let's take a look at to often not so mobile web.

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Watch the Online Video Course WordPress Mobile Solutions
44m 26s Beginner Aug 10, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This course shows how to create a mobile version of an existing WordPress web site by leveraging ready-made solutions. Author Morten Rand-Hendriksen demonstrates how to install and configure three different plugins: WP Mobile Detector, which automatically detects the visitor's mobile device type and displays an auto-formatted theme; WPtouch, which transforms a site into an iPhone application-style theme with just a few clicks; and the WordPress Mobile Pack toolkit for making more fine-tuned adjustments. Morten also covers modifying the appearance of the mobile site and tracking its analytics and other stats. This course offers a variety of ways to get a stylish and nimble mobile site up and running quickly, without having to edit any code.

Topics include:
  • Installing and activating plugins
  • Configuring mobile themes
  • Switching themes on the fly
  • Tracking analytics
  • Customizing menus
  • Sending push notifications
Subject:
Web
Software:
WordPress
Author:
Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Experiencing the (not so) mobile web

If I ask you how you access the web these days, I bet your answer will be something like, with my phone, or with my tablet, long before it is on my Desktop computer. With introduction of Smartphones and tablets, the way people visit and interact with the web has changed completely. In the past, the web was focused mainly on desktop computers with ever larger screens. Now the web needs to focus on the exact opposite, mobile computers and smaller screens. Using WordPress to create your web site, you have several options when it comes to dealing with this new mobile hurdle, but before we look at these options, let's take a look at to often not so mobile web.

What you see here is that web site I built a couple of years ago, for the 12 x 12 Vancouver Photo Marathon. It's a great web site as long as you are on a desktop, it has nice big buttons on it, it has nice dropdown menus, and it's very easy to navigate and get to where you want to go. However, if you open this on your cell phone, what you get is the exact same web site scaled down to fit the phone. That may sound okay, but it results in constant pinching and zooming to see what you want to do, and you keep poking at these menu buttons to try to get them to take you where you want to go, and generally it's an extremely frustrating experience.

That's not because there is anything wrong with the web site, it's because the web site was built before we started considering what happens when people visit web sites with their mobile devices. To see one option for how you can solve this problem, go no further than my blog, Design Is Philosophy. What I did on this blog, was I created a Responsive Theme. A Responsive Theme is a theme and a layout that responds to the size of the screen that's accessing it. As you can see, here in my Desktop, as I resize this window, the content rearranges and changes to fit the screen, and you see even the menu changes from this regular menu up here to menu that snaps on the bottom of the list.

And if I go to a single post, you will see that as I change the size the window, the layout of the post changes moving the title around, and you get more space for the content. If you visit this web site on your cell phone, you get the exact same experience, only the entire web site is really squished in to fit with the phone. But even though it's squished in, you still get a good experience, and it's easy to access the content and everything works. This is what Responsive Design is all about.

For third example, go check out readwriteweb.com. Now readwriteweb.com is not a WordPress site, but it serves as a great example of what you can do instead of creating a responsive theme. What readwriteweb has done is they have created a mobile version of their web site, that looks different and focuses specifically on mobile users, that means you are landing on a different type of web site when you use your mobile devices, and you can do the same thing in WordPress by using a plug-in.

In this course, we are going to be looking at how you can use plug-ins to create mobile specific web sites. All these plug-ins have the same goal, that is to create a web site that's easy to navigate and ingest for mobile users, and they go about it in different ways producing different results. The commonality between all these plug-ins is that they create consistent user experiences across multiple different web sites. So you will recognize the same type of layout for different web sites using the same plug-in.

If you're looking for information on how to build responsive themes for WordPress, you should go check out the other course WordPress: Building Responsive Themes, right here on the lynda.com online training library. This course will teach you how to build exactly what you see here. This is the Anaximander Theme, and it was built specifically for that course and for lynda viewers. So if you follow that course from beginning to end you'll end up with exactly the site you're seeing right now. The whole point of having a web site is for people to be able to access the information on that web site.

That means as the technology landscape changes so the web site itself has to change to accommodate the new reality. By making your site accessible with mobile devices, you keep yourself and your information accessible as the Internet landscape changes.

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