You have a WordPress.Org site and want to go mobile. What factors should you take into consideration when choosing a mobile solution for your site? Don’t know where to start? You’re in luck: I have compiled a mini-report benchmarking 12 popular mobile solutions that could be applied to your WP site (some of them were developed especially for the platform, others are more widely applicable).The solutions are compared for costs, technology, and many other factors. If you don’t want to read the report: here are seven questions you should ask yourself and some quick answers in a nutshell (or download the full 24 page mini-report below):
1. Theme, plugin or app?
If you want all visitors to view a mobile interface, simply choose a mobile CSS theme. If you want more advanced device based interaction, choose a WP plugin and if you want to give your mobile users a downloadable app, choose a platform to build an app on and offer the download on your site. If you choose the latter: think about the options to distribute your app. Appstore and Android Marketplace applications can be lengthy and complicated and come at a fee. Some app builder platforms can help you with the application process. But others offer alternative distribution methods. Also consider that you can combine themes and plugins as well as offer a mobile version of your site in combination with a downloadable app.
2. Saas or server based?
Saas platforms can be very useful because they are continuously updated with the latest technology and offer bandwidth for your end users beyond what your own site might have available. On the other hand: for control over your mobile site or application and it’s potentially brilliant code, a server based solution might be preferable.
3. Media rich mobile content or just text?
If you wish to enable access to your mobile site from legacy devices as well as the latest Android or Apple phones, you should consider using a solution which renders a mobile version of your site that disables bandwidth gobbling functionality such as video. If on the other hand most of your visitors are smartphone users then a mobile solution that makes smart use of video, images, geo-location and other advanced media functionality could be a better option.
4. Drag and Drop intuitive creation interface or room for extensive coding?
If you or your employees have extensive knowledge of the latest coding standards and you require high levels of customization: choose a mobile solution that offers options to achieve this. If not: there are many solutions that have very intuitive interfaces to easily create your own mobile app or site. Some solution providers also offer custom builds but these maybe expensive.
5. Option to have the development of your solution outsourced to the creators of the solution?
If you want your app to have a professional appeal but you don’t have the necessary expertise, consider a solution provider that can build your app for you. In some cases this may be costly. Also consider avoiding high levels of dependency on the other party. Once your app or site is up you maybe locked in to paying again and again for each change you require in the app or site.
6. Free solution or paid solution (what is your budget)?
Before you decide for a mobile internet solution, make sure you have an idea about the budget your willing to make available. Costs maybe less transparent then you perceive them to be and in some cases a one time cost is combined with a monthly fee and hidden costs maybe lurking around the corner for seemingly standard functionality you thought was included. Luckily there are decent free options available.
7. What code base do you prefer for your solution (HTML 5, CSS etc.) and why?
Different mobile solutions can have completely different code bases as well. A “1 fits all solution” maybe HTML 5, which incorporates a lot of mobile functionality and can be viewed on most devices. However if you want optimal viewing on all devices you may want to develop separate apps for different platforms such as Android, iOS etc. Before you decide for or against an approach with multiple versions of your app or site, ask yourself who within or without your organization is capable of dealing with the coding and maintenance of all different versions.
About The Report
In the report that you can download below you will find a ranking of some of the main options that apply if you want to offer visitors to your site a mobile friendly interface or a downloadable app. The options presented here are especially relevant if you have a site based on the wordpress.org platform. Some of the presented options are plugins, Saas or server based. Some are apps or mobile versions of a site or both. Some are free or paid or custom built. These are some of the main categories of solutions for mobile sites. In the report you will find tables with benchmark information for these and other factors for all mobile solutions as well as comments below each table. In the last section links and highlights of some of the solutions are included with additional comparison tables and such.