Mobilizing the Site

Posted 2009.07.25 16.06 in Computers/Internet/Technology

With mobile / handheld internet-enabled devices becoming more and more common, it makes sense to be able to offer one’s content in an alternative format that is geared towards serving the mobile devices. The small screen and alternative interface (i.e. no mouse etc.) can make browsing normal sites more of a challenge.

Mobile Version Screenshot

There is already at least one rather popular and very powerful WordPress plugin that creates a mobile version and serves it automatically to any browsers that it recognizes as belonging to the handheld class of devices. I’ve used it for a while, but there were some aspects of it that I did not like. First and formost was the theme – it was styled to look rather similar to an iPhone application I believe, and while that would be familiar to iPhone users, it meant that my unique scheme of colours and appearance were completely lost on the mobile platforms.

Then there were functional issues as well – I didn’t like how the posts were formatted, how the pages were handled, or that there did not appear to be any way to incorporate other unique content the way I wanted. I looked at the code and theme directories a few times but it seemed very complicated and like a lot of work to customize it. So in the end, I started from scratch and made my own mobile theme, based very much on my normal theme of course.

It remains optomized for handhelds, no graphics are served up on the home page, just text, which allows for quick loading and minimizes data transfer charges. It does include brief excerpts for the posts, and I have created a customized form of ‘sidebar’ which resides at the bottom of each page. I then created my own super-simplified plugin to drive the mobile version of the theme – the plugin code is based somewhat on the package I mentioned earlier, though my version has almost no features other than the barest minimum.

When I had finished it, I then created mobile-friendly but customized themes for my work’s web site, and my friend Lezley’s site. Lezley’s was a tough one, as she’s using ComicPress which makes some significant changes to how WordPress works, and building a new theme to be compatible with ComicPress as well as being mobile-friendly was a challenge.

To view the mobile versions, just head on over with your mobile device. Or if you’d like a preview, follow the links below. (It will look super-huge on a full size monitor, but that’s why it works on a mobile device.)

If  you have visited my site or one of these others with a mobile device but found either the mobile version does not appear for you, or it appears but the style is broken or aspects do not work, please contact me via the comments and let me know so I can fix it.

One Comment

  1. […] wasted needlessly. And partially because I spent some time and effort making my site friendly for mobile browsers, which included ensuring that people don’t automatically get forced into downloading heavy […]

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