WordPress, WAP and mobile phones

A couple of weeks ago, I became frustrated with Motorola RAZR and decided to upgrade my mobile phone to the new Motorola RAZR2. I loved my RAZR, but it was past its warranty and its main screen was constantly blank.

When I upgraded through Verizon, I decided to try out their Mobile Web package. To my surprise, many of the websites I visited were not optimized to be viewed through a WAP enabled phone. This meant that the websites didn’t display properly and navigating them through my cellphone was an absolute pain.

I had noticed some of the traffic navigating several of the websites I administer (this being one of them) were coming from mobile phones and PDA’s. So, I checked my websites out using my new RAZR2 to find that they didn’t display properly as well. 🙁 Since all of my websites are powered through WordPress, then certainly someone had gone through the trouble of creating a plugin that would render my blogs in a more concise manner.

To my surprise, I found one that appears to be doing the trick. It’s called WordPress Mobile Edition. You can find the plugin at the Alex King’s website. It’s not a perfect plugin and you MUST follow the directions completely. However, it works pretty darn good.

The plugin works by noticing when your blog is being accessed through a WAP enabled handheld. It then, substitutes a different WordPress theme to render your website. This theme is completely editable and shows up in your WordPress Theme Editor. It also comes with its own cascading style sheet, which allows you to tailor your WAP enabled blog to have a similar look and feel as your original WordPress theme. Here’s some pointers if you decide to try out WordPress Mobile Edition.

  1. Don’t select the Mobile Edition theme as your main theme, since your website gets stripped-down for those trolling your blog from a regular browser. You don’t have to change your theme because the plugin takes care of the swap for you.
  2. Don’t fuddle too much with the main template. WAP uses a stripped-down version of HTML, so there are some things you simply will not be able to do.
  3. Spend some time and tweak the accompanying cascading style sheet. Make sure the colors and header tags are used in a manner best suited for your blog.
  4. View your website through a WAP enabled handheld. Or, better yet, visit a WAP simulator like Opera Mini and verify that your blog is appearing the way you want it to.
  5. Don’t expect perfection. The art of programming WAP enabled websites is still in its infancy and nobody has a complete handle on how to render every website the same.

Your results and mileage will vary.

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