Top 5 Mobile WordPress plugins to help you keep your mobile users happy
As a site owner in today’s world, targeting your mobile users can be a daunting task, especially considering the fact that most of them spend their time using apps: 86% of the average US mobile consumer’s time, or 2 hrs and 19 minutes per day. It’s clear that solving the screen-size issue (responsive web design) is not enough to keep mobile readers engaged, hence the need to evolve beyond responsiveness. A few plugins are already on top of this trend and have created tools for anyone with a WordPress site to easily get their mobile audience hooked.
So without further ado, here they are! The most popular mobile-focused WordPress plugins:
This one’s the most popular according to WordPress stats. It has approximately 400,000 active installs. It comes in 2 versions:
● A free version with basic functionality
● A Pro version with support, several themes and other extra features.
The free version gets you 1 mobile-friendly theme that you can customize and some basic functionality. It is an easy way to preview and make sure the core functionality works. For more advanced functionality like backup, shortcode handling and integration with other plugins you will need to purchase the full PRO version.
The Pro version offers 7 extra themes catered for different types of sites, from text only blogs to small business sites.It starts at 69$ for a 1 site license and goes up to 119$ for a 5 site license. They offer the same feature package with the exception of 1 theme that is added to the 119$ offer and the ability to add several ads per page and page caching to speed up page loading.
Who’s it for ?
If you’re just getting started with WordPress or have a small blog, the free version is a simple way to place your existing content in a basic theme that works. On the other hand if you’re an online magazine or a professional blogger you will probably need access to the more advanced features of WPTouch like configuring your Google AdSense account or setting up Custom Ads, which you can only find in the Pro version.
How can I get started ?
It’s easy to get started with WPTouch. If you already have a site setup, you can download the plugin and activate it and the free theme “Bauhaus” that comes with it, works out of the box. You can use it as it is or you can customize a few things about it. You can change the theme colors & fonts, add your brand logo and add links to your social media account.
The default theme has a minimalist modern design that mimics a native app. The search-bar and menu are easily accessible from any screen and the content is easy to navigate. WPTouch provides a solid free starter package for a starting blogger or as a trial for the Pro version which caters to a more professional audience, from small businesses to agencies dealing with several WordPress sites.
WordPress Mobile Pack
Coming in at around 30,000 active installs, it is the second most popular plugin in this list. It has received a visual and functionality upgrade and while I can’t comment about the old version, this new one seems to be a solid product overall. It comes in 2 versions:
● A free version with 1 theme and 3 color schemes / customization and analytics
● A PRO version that comes with 3 themes and deeper customization options (own colors, larger selection of fonts) , 1-to-1 support and the option to connect your Google AdSense account through Google DoubleClick for Publishers.
With the free version you get 1 mobile theme, for which you can add a cover, brand logo and even an icon if your users add your application to their homescreen. You can also add analytics in the free version. But the star in this plugin is the app-like look & feel. With the exception of running in the browser, there is little to differentiate it from a native app. It has smooth animations and support swipe gestures. Unfortunately, the free plugin comes with limited visual customization options and no search option.
For starters, the PRO version allows you to get deeper customization for your app. Starting with a wider selection of app-themes, one which is Flipboard-like, perfect for an online magazine. You also get to add your own custom colors, and get a wider selection of mobile-friendly fonts. The option of inserting your own ads is also there, as well as social buttons, so users can share their favourite content on social media. Lastly, the 59$ you pay would also bring you 1-to-1 support for peace of mind in case you encounter any problems and access to updates for 1 year.
Who’s it for ?
How can I get started ?
You can get started with WordPress Mobile Pack in a few easy steps. It’s really just searching and installing the plugin as once installed it automagically redirects users to your new mobile web application. The app-themes works as is, but if you want you can select from three different color schemes and add your own brand logo and icon. It is a solid standalone product but can also be used by a more professional audience, like online magazines, news sites or professional bloggers, as a trial to decide whether transitioning to the PRO version matches your needs.
Here’s how you can customize your application in WordPress Mobile Pack PRO:
Monetizing your app with WordPress Mobile Pack PRO & Google DoubleClick for Publishers:
WordPress Mobile Pack can also be extended to a Premium Cloud Solution, suited for freelancers, web agencies & publishing companies. Some of the benefits of using the Premium, starting at 9.99 EUR/mo: phablets & tablets support, unlimited themes & custom appearance, unlimited content sources, unlimited applications, offline mode and even packaging & submitting to App Stores.
Duda Mobile Website Builder
The Mobile Website Builder from Duda-Mobile is the 3rd most popular mobile-friendly plugin on WordPress with approximately 10,000 active installs. It has a different revenue model than the other two plugins mentioned earlier:
● A free ad-supported version with limited functionality
● A premium site with advanced features that comes in a pay-monthly plan starting at $9.99/mo or $7.20/mo if you purchase an annual plan.
The only caveat with MWB is that it doesn’t support WordPress version above 4.0.8, so will be left out if you are on a newer version. I’ve had to revert to an older version of WordPress just to get started.
There are no themes per-se in MWB, however you can tweak the components of your design. For the header you can add your own image, resize and align it and also change the background color. For the style you choose between a number of predefined color palettes and change your background image, but you can’t choose your own colors, which is a shame. For the layout you can choose between different styles, although for my test site, it didn’t produce the changes presented in the selection thumbnail.
Content-wise you can drag and drop elements like contact-forms and click-to-call buttons, although the former is only accessible in the premium version, as most of the drag and drop elements.
Further restrictions are in-place when we tried to take our site live, which further positions the free option as a testing only proposition. Your website can only have a maximum of 10 pages and no more than 500 monthly page views and if you want to get rid of ads you will have to pay out for a monthly/annually subscription.
While we haven’t tested the pro version the banner on the site says that it will get rid of all the inconveniences of the basic version, give your own m. domain as well as technical support. If you don’t like monthly payments you can also outright buy a premium site for 159$.
Who’s it for ?
Unfortunately, even if you’re just starting with WordPress the functionality is very limited. You don’t get your own m. domain unless you pay for the premium version. We’d only recommend the free version for a trial to decide if you are willing to pay for the premium. Otherwise, if you’re a local business that is dependent on mobile users, the premium version offers some core functionality that is easily accessible from the design tab in the editor. You can add click to call buttons, map buttons, configure your AdSense account as well as several other integrations which might just make it worth going for the premium version.
How can I get started ?
First, make sure you have a compatible WordPress version (4.0.8 or less). Then just download and install the plugin. In the only menu of the plugin you will be redirected to Duda mobile’s own platform where you can configure your site and see a live preview of the changes. The process is quick, but be careful not to go over the 10-page limit in the page configuration menu, as there is no warning as to the limitations of the free version, until you get to the “Go Live” section to publish your site.
WiziApp – Adaptive Mobile Themes
Wiziapp is a plugin which enables you to get a real mobile theme for your WordPress site. You can choose your mobile theme from a list of premade themes. It has features so you can create your own Native Android & iPhone App, publish it to App Stores. It is compatible with WordPress 3.4 and up, so it will cover the large majority of WordPress users. As with most mobile-friendly plugins, Wiziapp is a freemium product, which gives you access to different functionality depending on the version you have:
● With the free ad-supported version you get access to 7 themes, basic theme customization and analytics
● If you want to have your own ads, or get rid of ad-space entirely you will need to pay 49$ for a 1-Year License. Next, publishing your app on Google’s Play Store will set you back 159$/ Yr and for Apple’s App Store it goes up to 299$ for a 1 Year license.
The free version gives you access to 7 themes which you can live-preview and customize before deploying one to your website. There’s one for brick and mortar businesses with “click-to-call” and “get directions” buttons and a few that mimic the native app interface, without the animations though. Depending on the theme, there are a few things you can customize like headers, section colors and what sections are displayed for a mobile user. I have to say there’s not much to customize, and depending on how much control you need, that can be both good and bad.
Paid Extra Features
It’s quite a short paid feature list. You have the option to buy the ad-space, which as a publisher, business or large-audience blogger you would probably need this to place your own ads or not display any at all. Unfortunately that is all that 49$ gets you. There are no extra themes, or other features at this price-point. For 149$, 299$ you can publish your own native app for the Android, Apple appstores. While I can’t comment on the customization level you can go to with their native app publishing platform, I can only say that the sample pictures used have an outdated pre iOS 7 look.
Who’s it for ?
The fact that the free-version is a fully featured product, with the exception of the display ads means that anyone get started using this plugin. Again, if you have a small audience and you don’t mind Wiziapp monetising the ads it presents to your users than I’d recommend giving it a try. If, on the other hand you have a large-audience blog or have a local business you might want to give it another thought. You could buy your way to an ad-free experience for 49$, but compared to other plugins that offer far more value for roughly the same amount of money, you’d be better off trying other options first like WP Touch or WordPress Mobile Pack. However if you really need a native app for your site, and don’t have the resources to develop an app from scratch, I would give a second look to Wiziapp’s paid appstore publishing options.
How can I get started ?
Getting started with Wiziapp is pretty straightforward. Just download the plugin from the WordPress plugin directory and activate it. If you go to your website from your phone, you’ll see it is already setup with the default mobile theme. That’s all you need to get started.
Mobiloud Mobile App Plugin
Mobiloud makes it easy to convert your WordPress blog or news site into a native mobile app for iOS (iPhone app and iPad app included) and Android phones and tablets. It is compatible with WordPress 3.4 and up, so it will cover the large majority of WordPress users. You can customize your mobile app, preview it online or see how it works on your own device. When you’re ready to share your app with your readers, Mobiloud offers several pricing plans.
● With the 69$/mo ad-supported Starter version you can publish you can have both iOS and Android apps and email support.
● To get rid of ads you’ll have to sign-up for the 99$/mo version where you also get push notifications for up to 2500 users.
● The highest pricing tier gets you small customizations to your app, removes mobiloud branding and adds phone support for $199/mo.
Free gets you to test all the features, and to preview your app but it doesn’t go any further. The good part is that, unlike Duda Mobile’s Website Builder, they are upfront about it and it seems to bode well with their users since they have a 4.5/5 rating on WordPress.
All pricing tiers will get you native iOS and Android apps, but only the last tier will get rid of Mobiloud branding and add phone support and small customizations. All tiers are advertised with a 30-day money back guarantee. To be honest, I found the customization options to be lacking. You can add your brand logo, change the navigation bar color and a few other small changes, but I can’t help but feel that it is a bit generic visual wise. Other types of customization are more comprehensive. You get settings for your native iOS and Android ads, Google and Facebook analytics as well as the option to insert your own code to further personalize the app.
Who’s it for ?
Everyone can test the product, which is a good thing. Once you test if the options available and level of customization is sufficient for your needs you can make a decision on whether or not you want to pay for it or try another plugin. It seems to be aimed at large publishers, as their solution doesn’t come cheap. Starting at 69$ it makes every other plugin seem like a bargain. Although I have to say their messaging is very clearly aimed at high-traffic blogs that can afford it.
How can I get started ?
Getting started takes only a few steps. After downloading and installing the plugin from the plugin directory you can easily see a mock-up in the plugin’s design tab and also a live preview of how it looks on a mobile device. When you are happy with how it looks and want to publish you’ll be redirected to a pricing page where you can select from one of the three plans available.
I’ve taken the free version of every plugin and the first-tier of pricing for every version and tried to pit them against one another. The comparisons aren’t exactly apples to apples, but they will give you a rough idea which ones you should consider and which ones are to be avoided. As with every product it is important to get the core features right before adding anything on top, so I will stick to comparing some of the core features of these 5 plugins.
|Plugin/Feature-Set||Price||Customization||Support||Ad Networks & Analytics Support|
|WP Touch||Free||1 theme, custom colors, branding||Only WordPress Support Forums||No,No|
|69$||+7 themes and extensions||Yes, 1 Year||Yes, Yes with custom code|
|WP Mobile Pack||Free||1 theme, 3 color schemes, branding||Yes||No, Yes|
|59$||3 app-themes, custom colors and fonts||Yes, 1 Year||Yes, Yes|
|Mobile Website Builder||Free||No themes, layout tweaks, predefined color palletes||No||No, Yes|
|86.4$/Yr||+extra drag-n-drop functionality modules||Email Support||Yes,Yes|
|Wiziapp||Free||7 themes with live-preview; ad-supported, limited customization||Email Support||No, Yes|
|49$/Yr||+no ads||Email Support||Yes, Yes|
|Mobiloud||Free||Preview Only||Email Support||No, No|
|828$/Yr||Native iOS/Android App, ad supported, limited customization||Email Support||Yes, Yes|
This matrix below, is what comes out from the comparison above. Obviously as you would move up the pricing-tiers some of the plugins would change quadrants and become better value, but focusing on the free and first pricing tier of each offering, it seems that in this case the popularity of the plugin correlates well with the quality of the product, to a certain extent.