Recently, WordPress.com launched two brand new mobile viewing options that automatically display when a blog is accessed using a mobile device. For iPhone, Android, and other similar mobile devices, a modified version of WPtouch will be displayed. For older, less capable mobile devices, a very stripped-down text only version is shown. These options can be turned off by the user, but remain active by default.
Automattic volunteered some astounding statistics, revealing that thousands of people have been using iPhone and Blackberry applications to publish and moderate content on WordPress.com. Secondly, it was said that WordPress.com, as a whole, receives over 60 million page views a month on mobile devices. There’s no doubt that Automattic has an interest of being the hero in your pocket. There is a much different story with the millions of self-hosted WordPress users. As it stands, if you’re running a self-hosted WordPress blog, making it mobile friendly doesn’t come quite as easy. And also, it’s not done automatically as it is for WordPress.com users.
But that’s ok! Fortunately for self-hosted WordPress users, making your WordPress blog mobile friendly isn’t too difficult at all. Here are a few options available to you that will help you get started on the right foot.
With 300,000 downloads, WPtouch has become one of the most popular and widely accepted WordPress mobile plugins available. WPtouch gives you the ability to convert your blog and optimize for iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, and BlackBerry users. It was modeled after Apple’s app store design specs, and is geared towards helping you make your blog load fast, and to make your content display beautifully for viewers using modern mobile devices.
WordPress Mobile Edition is a plugin, with over 100,000 downloads, that shows an interface designed for a mobile device when visitors come to your site on a mobile device. Mobile browsers are automatically detected, the list of mobile browsers can be customized on the settings page. One of the more appealing features of WordPress Mobile Edition is that it serves a mobile interface to Google and Yahoo mobile search crawlers. You can also add any others by adding their user agents in the plugin’s Settings page. All in all, WordPress Mobile is a mobile/phone/PDA friendly interface for your blog with progressive enhancement for advanced mobile browsers.
MobilePress is a WordPress plugin that has been downloaded 40,000 times and will render your WordPress blog on mobile handsets. It also offers owners the ability to use customized themes, in addition to allowing specific themes for specific devices, such as iPhone, Opera Mini, Windows CE Mobile and other mobile browsers.
MobilePress also allows WordPress theme developers to create custom mobile themes for WordPress blogs using the MobilePress plugin. Theme designers can also then create specific iPhone themes or generic themes. The plugin also comes with mobile SEO features which automatically detect Google and Yahoo mobile search bots. These mobile search bots will see the mobile version of you blog which allows your blog to optimized and indexed on Google and Yahoo mobile search.
In my opinion, I like WPTouch the best. However, the other two plugins offer some SEO features that shouldn’t be ignored. Google Webmaster Central Blog just released some tips on how to help Google index your mobile site more easily. If you discover that your blog isn’t index in Google Mobile, you might want to spend some time correcting that. And using one of the two latter plugins may help.