Day six of  the yeah write community following ProBlogger’s 31 days to build a better blog: make your blog mobile-friendly

You need a copy of the 31dbbb workbook? Click here. There’s no 31dbbb grid today since it’s not a writing exercise. We invite you to be all robust in the comment section with your topical discussion.

Show of hands: who knows what percentage of your blog traffic is from mobile browsers or tablet PCs or iPads?

Have you installed a blog stats tracker on your blog, yet? If not, stop reading and go do that now. Yeah write recommends Google Analytics or Clicky or both. We’ll wait until you get back. Here’s a fun video for the rest of us while we stand around ’til you return.

 

“Two Chips” / An Animated Short from Adam Patch on Vimeo.

Now, let’s check our stats for a good estimate of the percentage of mobile visitors

Using two snapshots (click to embiggen images) of yeah write’s stats on Clicky, yeah write has nearly 20 percent mobile visitors coming in either on a mobile platform or a mobile browser. What’s the difference between a mobile platform or mobile browser? The platform is the device itself: iPhone, iPad, Android phone. The browser is a web browser converted for mobile devices, but it can be viewed on various platforms. For example, when you email an interesting article you’ve found while using your phone (the platform), the web browser may send your recipient the mobile version of the web page even if the recipient is using a desktop computer.

mobile platformspercent mobile browsers

Your percentage of mobile visitors may be higher or lower than that of yeah write, but, in general, the number is rising across the web. Not many of us in the yeah write community run e-commerce sites, but we certainly purchase from them. We know first-hand how important it is to be user-friendly for all visitors, not just the ones sitting at a desktop computer. Sometimes, we need to buy that shirt while we’re waiting for the next bus. Along the same reasoning, sometimes our blog visitors need to leave that comment for us right then. On the bus, on campus, at work (ahem), on the go. It’s hard enough to capture and retain regular blog visitors; we should make it as easy as possible for them to engage wherever and however they surf in.

You don’t have to be super duper mobile friendly, but don’t be downright hostile, either

Here are screenshots (click to embiggen images) of a local business I ended up calling with the complaint “Your web site is too hard to navigate. All I needed were your business hours, I shouldn’t have had to call you for them.” I’m sure I made their day.

not mobile ready-home not mobile ready-1 not mobile ready-2

 

The best way to make your blog mobile-friendly? Responsive themes

Responsive themes, available on all major blogging platforms, adjust the width of your blog’s header, content and sidebar containers to match the width of the user’s mobile browser. You don’t have to do anything but make sure you’ve installed a responsive theme, and now that you know what they are called, you can perform a features search when looking for your next theme.

WordPress self-hosted responsive (click to embiggen images)

wporg-responsive-1 wporg responsive-2

 

Blogger responsive (click to embiggen images). Easy to read, but nearly impossible to comment on posts from a mobile device.

blogger responsive blogger comment issues

 

WordPress-hosted with Jetpack installed (click to embiggen images)

wporg responsive home wpcom-responsive-2 wpcom-responsive-1

 

What if you like your non-responsive theme just the way it is? Is there another way to accommodate mobile visitors?

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  • If you’re on self-hosted WordPress, you can try WP touch, a premium plugin designed to create a mobile-friendly layout for your blog
  • If you’re on WordPress.com, activate the mobile feature in Jetpack and you’re good
  • Blogger? You’re gonna lose comments either way it goes, even if you go with Intense Debate or Disqus. When your visitors reach your Blogger blog on a mobile, Blogger defaults to its native commenting system. Doesn’t matter since Intense Debate and Disqus act like they’ve never heard of a mobile browser and tend not to cooperate with host sites anyway
  • Test your add-on to make sure it works. Some WP.org add-ons change pages, going to the next post, when all the user wants to do is scroll down to the next paragraph. If the add-on is frustrating your user, get rid of it
  • Turn off CAPTCHA

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Anybody up for a giveaway of a new, responsive WP theme?

I mentioned this in Wednesday’s 31dbbb post: if you are looking for a new WordPress premium theme or are thinking of moving to self-hosted WordPress sometime soon, just leave us a comment in this post and, in a few days, we’ll announce the winner of a new responsive WP theme from Elegant Themes. Head on over to the Elegant Themes site, see if there’s anything you like, then enter the drawing. You don’t have to choose right now. Just say “I’m in” and that’s good enough. You’d be on your own for installation, btw. I’ve gone back to work full-time and I have two yeah write editors in my queue who’ve been waiting for a new theme for a year. I’m a terrible friend. If you need a recommendation for a (paid) installation more than you need a new best friend, let us know.

Any other mobile-friendly suggestions or success stories? Leave ’em in comments…