More and more people are using mobile devices to access the Internet. In fact, research shows two-thirds of cell phone owners use their phone to go online. On top of that, one third of these users (34 per cent) mostly use their phone to access the internet, as opposed to other devices like desktop and laptop computers.
If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re losing a whole chunk of users on the go who will quickly look elsewhere if your site does’t load on their device.
In order to reach this audience, you need to ensure your site looks and works great on mobile devices. Fortunately, there are many great free and premium plugins that are designed to do this for you.
In this post, I’ll look at the top mobile optimization plugins available for WordPress and offer some recommendations.
WPtouch replaces your site with a mobile-only theme and displays your content and not much else. The result is user-friendly, fast and easy to read.
This free version of the plugin offers some great basic customizations, such as language detection, custom code, branding colors, typography, social media in the footer and other styling options.
The great thing about WPtouch is how easy it is to set up – just activate the plugin and your site will be automatically optimized for mobile before you even have to look at the plugin’s settings. The plugin also allows visitors to your site to switch between the mobile-only site and your regular theme.
The pro version of WPtouch starts at $49 for a single site, which includes feature and security updates, cloud themes and support. There are also agency and enterprise packages ($199 and $349, respectively) with even more features, making this an ideal solution for developers creating client sites.
This is an incredibly popular plugin with almost six million downloads.
iThemes’ Mobile premium plugin is a powerful yet simple plugin that allows you to transform any website into a mobile device-friendly site.
Mobile is ideal for a quick “drop and go” setup, rather than extensive customizations. The plugin includes mobile-ready themes and lets you change basic style and color schemes for your mobile theme. It displays the content from your posts and pages.
Features include a mobile theme style manager, a built-in custom header uploader, four mobile starter themes and the ability to create your own, the option to assign different themes for different devices.
The neat thing about this plugin is that it doesn’t just support smart phones, it supports a wide range of devices including handheld game consoles.
The pro version of Mobile starts at $45 for 2 websites, which is suited to single website owners and bloggers. A developer package for $150 is aimed at those creating multiple business sites and allows for unlimited licenses.
Duda Mobile Website Builder
Duda Mobile creates a mobile-friendly version of your website that you build using Duda’s mobile website builder.
After activating this free plugin, a setup wizard takes you to the Duda website where you can use a drag and drop editor to customize your site’s navigation and layout styles. You can also add features such as click-to-call, maps and contact forms. Unlike some other mobile optimization plugins, this one keeps the look and feel of your original site’s theme.
This is an easy to use plugin and offers basic functionality for mobile optimisation, but its features are no match for the premium plugin options available.
It’s important to point out that Duda displays banner advertisements on sites that use the free version of the plugin. Free users must also use a default URL provided by Duda (that will look something like mobile.dudamobile.com/site/mysitename) and can’t use a custom domain.
Any Mobile Theme Switcher
Any Mobile Theme Switcher is a very basic plugin that detects the device a person is using to access your site and displays your selected theme. With this theme it’s possible to use one theme for iPhone users, a different theme for Android users and another still for those using Windows Mobile.
There are a small handful of options that allow you to set how long the mobile theme is displayed for and whether to show the mobile-version of the site to desktop users.
HandHeld Mobile Plugin
Elegant Themes’ HandHeld plugin works alongside your regular theme, serving as an alternate layout that is only displayed to your mobile visitors.
This alternate design displays your pages and posts in fast and easy to read way that is also user-friendly.
Features include a gallery section, blog layout, AJAX loading, threaded comments and styling options.
You’ll need to sign up for an Elegant Themes membership for $89 to access this plugin.
Mobile Smart lets you choose a design to display from your existing themes whenever a mobile user access your site. Further options allow you to display a footer link allowing users to manually access your site’s mobile-friendly version.
This is helpful if you don’t like the responsive version of your site and want to display a different and more specific one to your mobile device users. It also means you will have to create your own mobile-version of your site since this plugin doesn’t offer any kind of site customizations.
It’s a pretty basic and lightweight plugin. The pro version ($15) supports domain switching (i.e. redirect users to m.yoursite.com), mobile-specific pages, and mobile menus.
WP Mobile Edition
WP Mobile Edition automatically detects whether visitors to your site is using a mobile device or not and switches between your primary theme (for desktop users) or loads a mobile-specific theme. It also allows users to switch between mobile view and your site’s regular theme and remembers their choice.
Other features include the ability to insert mobile AdSense, social links, the option to display your latest posts or a mobile landing page, and shortcodes.
Currently, there is only one mobile theme provided and it’s not clear when five more than are hinted at in the plugin will become available.
WP Mobile Detector Mobile Plugin
The WP Mobile Detector Mobile Plugin automatically detects whether your visitors are using a mobile device and displays a compatible mobile theme.
There are nine mobile themes provided and you can also enable any of your existing themes to display to mobile users.
When setting up this plugin, you will need to set up permissions to allow it to work properly. This plugin also hasn’t been designed with UX in mind. The mobile themes interface is confusing with text that runs on and the ads for the pro version are obtrusive.
Yes, there’s also a pro version available for $50. It offers a theme editor, mobile ads, the ability to detect different devices, and advanced statistics.
Why this plugin has “mobile” twice in its name I do no know.
Mobile optimization plugins offer a straight forward way to display mobile-friendly content to users who access your site on devices other than desktop and laptop computers.
While responsive themes can make your content look great on smaller devices and often suffice for those who want to cater to mobile users, these themes don’t always load quickly. Mobile optimization plugins – as the name implies – optimises your site for mobile, ensuring your content is displayed in a robust and easy to read fashion.
If you’re looking for a simple solution for displaying a mobile-friendly site to visitors to your blog or single website, the free version of WPtouch available in the WordPress Plugin Repository is a great option. If you want to simply display a different theme to mobile users, Any Mobile Theme Switcher allows you to display a pared-back version of your site.
WPtouch is also a fantastic option for developers creating larger sites. I would also recommend iThemes’ Mobile plugin as another alternative. Both plugins offers extensive features and support.