WordPress and iOS 7
According to the most recent Walker Sands Mobile Traffic Report, devices that use Apple's iOS account for 47 percent of all mobile traffic. This number has fallen a bit over the years, but iOS still owns the market share.
WordPress acknowledged the importance of iOS devices when it recently updated its WordPress mobile app so that it would function with Apple's release of iOS7. The upgrade to the app makes it easier for admins to publish posts and manage their site from an iPhone or iPad thanks to features that include:
- Improved login screen and error message notification
- Simplified tab-based user interface
- Enhanced Reader, Comments, and Notifications
- More seamless inline commenting experience
- Redesigned posts/pages editing and viewing experience
- Support added for deep linking from Twitter
- Various bug fixes
So now that WordPress is making sure that their application works well with iOS 7, what actions are you taking to ensure that visitors on iPhones and iPads are having the best experience possible when they arrive at your site?
The answer had better not be, "nothing." Not only has Google come out publicly and stated that sites need to be mobile friendly, but as globally recognized digital design and Internet trends consultant Janine Warner puts it, "Nearly every business needs to adapt to reach consumers effectively on any screen. The worst strategy is to ignore your mobile audience altogether."
Building a Mobile Site
One strategy for appeasing mobile visitors is to build a completely new site designed with a mobile first mindset. Sites designated with the .mobi domain or them. subdomain are examples of those that use this strategy. When the server reads the browser as a mobile device the mobile site is returned instead of the full version.
Mobile sites are a completely separate website to build, maintain and optimize. They do offer some benefit when it comes to searches performed on mobile devices like those using Safari for the iOS.
Using a Plugin
WordPress' popularity is due in part to its vast plugin library. Adding functionality and features to a blog is relatively easy; all the owner has to do is install the plugin to get things going. When it comes to mobile WordPress solutions, there are plugins for that as well. WPTouch is one example. This plugin allows the user to choose from different themes and extensions to help them turn their full sized WordPress site into one that can be viewed on any mobile device, especially iOS7 devices which they have called the forefront of the mobile web.
There have been reports of iOS7 not displaying WordPress sites that rely on plugins very well in both the Chrome and Safari browsers. If this is the route you take, make sure to test everything before you rely on the plugin to provide the mobile face of your site.
An App for That
Turning a WordPress website into an app can be done with a plugin as well; and this offers visitors a great way to have easy access to your site at any time. Publishing your site app in the app store will also give the site more exposure and could help increase readership. The app will only work on the platform that it was designed for which can be a good thing since apps built for iOS7 can utilize the device's functionality to offer a better user experience. The drawback is that the app will only work on the platform it was created for.
Rounding out the pack of mobile design solutions for WordPress is responsive design. This practice requires the site to be built on a grid system that will re-adjust the elements on the page when it is viewed on different screen sizes.
The benefits to a responsive WordPress site are:
- You only have to build, and optimize, one site
- It is the method recommended by Google for building mobile optimized websites
- There are plenty of responsive WordPress themes that can give you a starting point for designing your site
One thing can be certain, iOS7 will not be the last update that Apple releases. iOS will, however, remain a large part of how websites show up in the mobile arena. Make sure that whatever you do, iOS7 is a part of your design strategy.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff is the web content developer for PhishMe, a security training and awareness company. He frequently writes about design, blogging and WordPress. You can follow him on Twitter @jeorl