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How to Build a Better WordPress Mobile Website

WordPress Mobile
Photo: wordpress.com

Proper WordPress mobile support is one of those things that’s easy to overlook. The popular perception is that it’s one of those things that’s just taken care of. As advanced as WordPress is, though, you’ll find that your standard mobile site just isn’t up to par.

Here’s some more potentially bad news. Building a problem WordPress mobile site requires you to use the right tools and the right mentality. You can’t expect to just push a button and have everything work out for you. Tackling this problem is going to require you to rethink how you design your website and what tools you come to rely on.

It’s not always a quick process, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Join us as we breakdown some of the tips you’ll need to build a WordPress mobile website and some of the tools that can do a surprising amount of the work for you.

Best Tips for Building a WordPress Mobile Website

Use Fewer Images

We’ll talk a little later about how this isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s certainly a good starting point.

The bottom line is that too many images can hurt your mobile performance. While there are certain instances where images are unavoidable, you’d be amazed at how easy it is to remove images from the body of most articles without ruining the final product.

The bottom line is that you should only be using images in articles when strictly necessary. While that’s not always an option, designing your articles with that mentality will lead to better results.

Go With a Better Web Host

We’ve spoken before about how your web host affects so many of your future decisions. Well, that’s especially true of your website’s mobile responsiveness.

This is actually kind of a complicated area. Generally speaking, premium web hosts offer better performance. However, there are some web hosts that specialize in mobile performance that offer the fastest speeds of all.

What it really comes down to is deciding how much you want to prioritize mobile performance and finding the host that best accommodates your needs.

Choose a More Responsive Theme

Choosing the right web host absolutely impacts your mobile performance. However, the theme you choose may have an even larger overall impact on your website’s mobile responsiveness.

It’s generally a good idea to look for themes that emphasize response time. While we don’t recommend choosing a theme based solely on that attribute, you’re never going to regret having a theme designed with optimal mobile performance in mind.

Ideally, the initial theme you choose will be able to properly optimize mobile response time. If not, then it is time to make a switch.

Utilize Google Accelerated Mobile Pages

Google is your source for some of the best SEO tools out there, and they should also be your first look when you’re looking to optimize your site’s mobile performance.

Accelerated Mobile Pages is a Google tool that helps you design more mobile efficient web pages. By Google’s own admission, this tool will never be better than the best designed HTML pages, but it is certainly better than your standard coded WordPress pages.

It takes a little time to get used to this tool’s finer features, but it’s absolutely worth learning how to properly use it.

Make Sure You Are Only Working With Optimized Images

As we said, you should avoid using unnecessary images on your webpage, but what about necessary images? How do you make the images you can’t avoid as mobile friendly as possible?

The rules regarding optimized images are always changing, but there are a few basic ones you can follow. For instance, you need to avoid using larger images in the body of your email, and you’re better off sticking with certain popular file formats (JPEG is almost always a safe bet).

The general rule here is that you need to be aware of what an optimized mobile image is before you just start inserting images into your articles. Otherwise, it could take a lot of cleanup to set things right.

Manage Your Ads and Pop-Ups

Ads are a necessary element of many websites that are trying to make money. However, ads can also drastically reduce the speed of your mobile website.

This is especially true of pop-ups. Pop-up ads are among the biggest mobile killers out there. Having one on your front page can ruin your mobile speed and cause users to just abandon the web page outright.

Always make sure that any ads you agree to run are mobile friendly and that you limit (or entirely cut) pop-ups wherever possible.

Continuously Test Your Website With Various Tools

There’s no such thing as making the perfect mobile website and reaping the rewards. Building the perfect mobile website is all about constantly maintaining your website and ensuring that it meets updated standards.

Thankfully, there’s a variety of tools out there that will check your website and ensure it’s optimized for mobile devices. We’ll talk about a few of them later on, but the general idea here is to take advantage of the free and premium tools out there that will tell you what you need to fix and how to fix it.

Always View Your Site Via Mobile Devices

Here’s a simple trick that might not be as obvious as it sounds.

Basically, you need to always view your website via a mobile device. Often times, the best way to see how optimized your website is for mobile devices is to ensure that it passes the eye test.

If you website doesn’t feel good to use on a mobile device, that means that you need to start making some changes. Just be sure to be honest with yourself regarding what you need to improve about your mobile site and how you need to improve it.

Check Your Font and Formatting

This might sound like one of those little things that don’t really matter, but you’d be amazed how much of an impact it can have.

It’s important to be mindful of your font and formatting when you’re designing your web pages. The general rule for font is that you want to ensure that it’s not too large (around 11 or 12 pts is usually safe) as font that is too large can slow down mobile browsers.

Formatting is a little more complicated, but one rule to always follow is to ensure that you space your interactive elements. By that, we mean that you want to give anything that can be “touched” and interacted with plenty of room on a webpage. Putting these elements too close together is also a major speed killer.

Consider Utilizing a Separate Mobile Theme

This is a tip that we only recommend for the truly desperate, but it’s worth knowing that you have the option.

It’s possible to run two WordPress themes: one for your desktop browsers and one for you mobile browsers. While this is an unoptimized way to improve mobile performance, it may be one of your best options (at least in the short term) if you’ve been running a site for a long time without mobile optimization in mind.

If you do choose to go this route, then be sure to not rely on “cheap” tools that offer this. You’ll want to utilize HTML options.

Best WordPress Mobile Plugins of 2020

WP Touch

Mobile WordPress

WP Touch is so widely used that it’s basically considered to be standard for the majority of users.

This plugin allows you to enable a mobile mode for your WordPress site so that visitors don’t have to rely on viewing your desktop site on mobile devices. This greatly optimizes performance and generally leads to a better viewing experience.

While you’ll still need to follow mobile optimization guidelines for your site, this plugin really does a lot of legwork.

iThemes Mobile

WordPress Mobile

Here’s another mobile theme option that you might want to consider if you’re not quite happy with what WP Touch offers.

iThemes Mobile also enables a mobile version of your WP theme but goes a step further by offering a suite of options that afford you a little more control over what the final product looks like.

Not everyone will need those options, but it’s easy to recommend this plugin to users who have more of a mobile theme vision in mind.

WP Mobile Menu

Mobile pages are about much more than availability. In other words, just having a mobile page available isn’t enough anymore. You’ve also got to optimize it.

This plugin helps you with one of the more annoying parts of mobile page optimization. By allowing you to create and customize your mobile menus, this plugin will ensure that users don’t feel like they’re navigating a desktop site on mobile.

WordPress Mobile Pack

WordPress Mobile

Along with mobile page optimization, it’s becoming increasingly important to offer an app for your desktop site. Sadly, app design is an often complicated and time-consuming process.

WordPress Mobile Pack eliminates a great deal of the hassle that comes with creating an app. While it doesn’t necessarily create an app for you, it does help you easily generate a reasonable facsimile of one that is often more than enough to please SEO requirements and mobile users.

EWWW Image Optimizer

wordpress mobile

There’s no shortage of great image plugins out there, but this is one of the best when it comes to optimizing your images for mobile browsing.

Basically, this plugin checks all of the images you upload in order to ensure that they meet mobile browsing requirements. While a little work is required in order to keep everything up-to-date and properly optimized, this plugin will help you automate some of the more minute details

TapTap

WordPress Mobile

One of the most difficult parts of transitioning from WordPress desktop to WordPress mobile is building menus. Simply put, most desktop menus just don’t work on mobile devices.

TapTap helps you with that transition process. This extensive plugin lets you easily create custom mobile menus that work perfectly with just about every mobile device. It allows you to easily build the ideal desktop menus without having to automatically adjust them for your mobile needs. This one comes highly recommended along with WP Mobile Menu.

WP Mobile Detector

WordPress Mobile

Not all mobile devices are made the same. For that matter, not all mobile browsers are made the same. That can make proper optimization for every type of WordPress mobile user a bit difficult.

WP Mobile Detector offers an interesting solution to that problem. It promises to detect the browser that the reader is using and then optimizes your mobile site to match it. Does it work that well? You’ll have to play around with the settings, but you’d be surprised by how well this plugin can work if you take the time to adjust it a bit.

Mobile Smart

Mobile Smart is another WordPress mobile plugin that promises to help automatically adjust your mobile site for individual users. However, this one features a couple of unique features.

Namely, Mobile Smart promises to be able to better detect the restrictions and abilities of a user’s mobile device. By doing so, it’s able to offer enhanced functionality for your readers. This app also offers a versatile “switch” feature that allows people to easily revert back to a desktop view.

AppPresser

Do you want a proper app for your WordPress mobile website but think you don’t have the budget and time? AppPresser may be the solution that you’re looking for.

Yes, AppPresser is a bit complicated. We don’t recommend turning to this app if you need a quick solution. Yet, with a little work, you’ll find that this is much easier than creating an app from scratch. Actually, the fact that this app isn’t entirely easy to use is one of the best reasons to recommend it. Building a mobile app shouldn’t always be “easy” but this service makes it much easier.

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