In an article back here I made the case that not all websites need a mobile version.
My point was that the growth of tablets made the requirement for a mobile version less important. Tablets can render the full version of a website as quickly and easily as a laptop or desktop, particularly now with the development of responsive designs.
And tablets, rather than hand-helds, will be the medium that people will increasingly use while on the move.
Where you would need a mobile version is if your site is focused on delivering information that people are likely to check quickly while they're out and about. Examples would be stock prices, weather reports, racing results and so on.
Those are more likely to be checked on a handheld, so a mobile version of those sites would greatly help your visitors.
Anyway, I was sitting in one of my regular haunts last night and, looking around, I counted 5 people who were online and all of them were either using laptops (MacBook Airs were popular) or tablets.
I also went online (on my hand-held) to do a Facebook check-in. I then put my phone to sleep and waited for any alerts that signalled a response.
And my point from all that is this: my argument of last year is still valid, perhaps even more so now.
If people want to read something that requires a bit of focus, while on the move, they’ll do it on a tablet – so no need for a mobile version if that's the kind of content your site offers.
If people need to check some facts quickly while on the move, they’ll do it on a hand-held – so a mobile version would be good if you're offering real-time, data updates like stock prices.
Social media interactions also fall into this category.
PluginBuddy Mobile plugin
All that said, I found myself a fantastic mobile plugin for WordPress this week: the PluginBuddy Mobile plugin from the team at iThemes.
The primary reason I like it is because, instead of creating one mobile version of your site for all mobile devices, you can create a specific version for each mobile device.
So far I’ve only created an iPhone version, but I could create versions for up to 16 different devices, ranging from the obvious and more general, such as Android devices, to the more specific (LG Phones) and less obvious (Nintendo Wii).
There’s a wealth of customisations at your disposal as well: the ability to upload a header graphic, choose colours for things like site background, content background, links, headings and text, and choose fonts. And all done by point and click, with no coding knowledge required.
The only thing I’m disappointed with is that there’s no ability to select font size. As a result, my headings are bigger than I’d ideally like them to be in relation to the body text.
However, the important thing is that you can present a mobile version of your site that is clearly your site, complete with your branding. Not some stripped down generic looking version.
And that I liked.
So yes, even though the proportion of visitors to this site that use hand-helds is just 1.2% I now have an iPhone version. And I'll watch the statistics with interest to see if that proportion grows.
If you’d like to check out iThemes’ PluginBuddy Mobile plugin you can do so here but, a heads up: it’s a premium plugin so it’s not free and, yes, that’s an affiliate link.
It’s definitely worth the investment, though, if you have a lot of visitors viewing your site on a hand-held.