With the Growth in use of Tablets Who Needs a Mobile Site? Maybe You

Mobile BrowsingIn 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.


Maritn Malden

About the author: Martin has been working online since 2006 and focuses on two areas: 1) affiliate marketing and 2) designing and building websites based on WordPress. He has his own WordPress agency, and serves clients in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK.

What do you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Susanna Perkins May 23, 2012 @ 7:40

    What about getting a mobile responsive theme and then not worrying about which device someone is using? It might not be perfect for every single device, but unless you have an audience numbering in the millions — or at least the hundreds of thousands — I can’t see it’s worthwhile to spend the time to optimize for every single device, especially as they change so frequently anyway.

    • Martin May 23, 2012 @ 8:36

      Hi Susanna,

      Yes – I tend to agree.

      My point in the previous article (that I linked to) was that the growth of tablets removes the urgency that existed a while ago to develop mobile versions of your sites. The development of responsive designs makes that even less urgent.

      And I certainly have no intention of developing a mobile version for every device, especially as mobile browsers form such a small proportion of visits to this site.

      As I said above, mobile browsers account for 1.2% of site visits. Within that, iPhone accounts for 0.7%, Android accounts for 0.1% and the rest don’t even figure high enough to warrant a percent value!

      So, while I will watch the stats to see if there’s a benefit to having an iPhone version, based on those figures I’m not going to be spending time optimising for anything else.

      However, my other point was that whether or not you optimise for mobile is dependent on your site’s content and how people view it.

      If 90% of my site’s visits were via mobile browsers then I probably would spend time optimising for the top 2 or 3 (or possibly more if the spread was pretty even).