Imagine a store that turns away half of the people who tried to enter. Poor business model, right?
If your WordPress website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you may be doing the same thing to your visitors — mobile web traffic accounts for over half of all global internet traffic. If you dip into your website analytics, you might see a similar story among your own visitors. The truth is that many people spend more time on their phones than their desktops.
So, how should WordPress admins accommodate these mobile users? For a website to be mobile-friendly, it must be:
- responsive, meaning that the page layout adjusts to the dimensions of the mobile screen for easier reading.
- optimized for speed, since mobile devices tend to have fewer computational resources than desktop computers and thus take longer to load web pages.
- navigable, since mobile screens lack the space for bulky menus and navigational elements.
That’s a lot for website owners to tackle at once, especially those without coding experience, which is why WordPress plugins come in handy. From boosting performance to reformatting your site for phone screens, these add-ons can help deliver an optimal experience for all your visitors. Here are eight mobile-friendly WordPress plugins we recommend you try out.
Plugins for Making Your Site Mobile-Friendly
- AMP for WP
- WP Mobile Menu
- Max Mega Menu
For years, WPtouch has been a go-to plugin for WordPress admins in need of a quick, code-free mobile solution. This plugin automatically applies a mobile theme to any WordPress website, turning it into a mobile site which displays only to users accessing the site on phones and tablets. Meanwhile, your desktop theme stays unchanged.
The free version of the WPtouch comes with one mobile theme that, while basic, can be customized through the WPtouch administration panel and the WordPress Customizer in order to fit your branding. The plugin settings let you toggle many aspects of the theme on and off. Plus, the theme is lightweight, which is crucial for high-performing mobile websites.
WPtouch has also taken steps to incorporate Google’s mobile recommendations, which helps your mobile pages rank higher in Google search while improving the user experience.
For more customization options and mobile-friendly themes, consider WPtouch’s paid add-ons. These include extra themes for online businesses and ecommerce sites, plus extensions for display ads, caching, related post recommendations, and more. You can buy individual themes and extensions and build a tailored solution, or purchase a bundle that combines popular themes and extensions. Bundles start at $79 per year for one site.
As a WordPress user, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard of the Jetpack plugin. Made by the team behind the WordPress CMS, Jetpack consists of various modules to enhance your site’s marketing, security, SEO, analytics, and a lot more. It’s an all-in-one solution that cuts down the total number of plugins you’ll need to install (which itself benefits mobile performance).
However, Jetpack makes this list for its performance optimization features — these include a content delivery network to serve files more quickly, lazy loading images, infinite scroll, and WordPress-optimized video hosting.
So, if you’re considering making Jetpack a part of your WordPress site, the plugin’s mobile benefits might just push you to click “install.”
One of the biggest enemies of page performance — and, by extension, mobile page performance — is large image files. The larger the image file, the longer it will take to load on the page, slowing your entire site down.
Smush is a WordPress image optimization plugin that tackles this issue head-on. It automatically compresses images when you upload them without a visible drop in quality, and lazy-loads images to give the impression of a faster website. It can also go back and compress all images you've uploaded to your site.
Starting at $6 per month, you can upgrade to Smush Pro, which compresses files to a greater extent than the free version, removes file size limits (the free version only compresses images under 1 MB), uses a content delivery network to send images, and automatically backs up your original image uploads. You can also pay for a membership ($19 per month) which grants access to all WPMU DEV premium plugins, including Hummingbird (which we’ll discuss later on).
4. AMP for WP
AMP is an HTML framework introduced by Google. Originally intended to optimize web pages for mobile devices (AMP stands for Accelerate Mobile Pages), AMP now applies to web pages delivered across all devices. Still, AMP is most valuable for mobile websites.
The AMP for WP plugin is a popular solution that applies Google’s AMP principles to WordPress sites. It reformats your website’s pages into a mobile site to serve more efficiently on smartphones and tablets. This helps to improve the browsing experience while boosting rankings in Google, search since your website complies with its AMP standards.
AMP for WP provides a lot of flexibility and utility for free. The developers also sell extensions that make the plugin compatible with other popular plugins like WP Forms, WooCommerce, Elementor, Divi, and Contact Form 7. Consider your site’s more advanced needs if you’re looking at this plugin, since you’ll likely have to pay to get the most out of it.
You also have the option to subscribe to a membership to get multiple extensions in bulk. For more details, see AMP for WP’s pricing page.
The AMP plugin is another free way to apply Google’s AMP practices to your web pages. Made by the Google AMP project contributors, this plugin lets WordPress admins publish mobile-optimized web pages without any programming on their part.
The AMP plugin converts your site's code into AMP-friendly mockup by removing incompatible elements for you. It identifies these problems and fixes them, complete with explanations as to why certain website features impede performance. It also identifies AMP-incompatible WordPress plugins that may hurt your site.
This plugin also provides some flexibility in terms of your AMP configuration. You can opt to use only one AMP-first theme if you want your entire site to follow AMP guidelines. Or, there’s the option to serve both AMP and non-AMP pages — for instance, you can serve the former to mobile visitors and the latter to desktop visitors.
Smaller mobile screens present navigational challenges for web designers — how do users know where they can go and how to get there, without the space for sidebars and header menus?
WP Mobile Menu is one popular fix. This freemium plugin adds a responsive, three-layer mobile menu to any WordPress website. You can build standard text-only menus, or place images, logos, icons, and branding elements onto your menus. Plus, these menus can be hidden on load and conveniently slide into view.
WP Mobile Menu also offers premium versions of the tool. There’s Professional ($6.49 per month) which lets you remove menus from specific pages and adds some additional menu options, as well as Business ($9.99 per month), which enables WooCommerce compatibility, and Enterprise ($29.99 per month)
Max Mega Menu is another popular plugin for mobile menus, best for websites with extensive pages and navigation. These websites require especially large menus, or mega menus, which are challenging to implement on mobile websites. Max Mega Menu converts your existing WordPress menus into mega menus and pays particular attention to responsive design.
Max Mega Menu lets you set breakpoints for the menu to collapse on smaller screens. It also comes with a mobile-optimized menu option that can hide your sub-menus and save screen space. This menu can slide in from the side, or appear as a standard drop-down.
The base version of the Max Mega Menu plugin is free. However, there’s also a Pro version (starting at $29 for one site) that supports more features like sticky, tabbed, and accordion menus, plus custom icons and a WooCommerce integration.
Hummingbird is a caching plugin for WordPress — it instructs your visitors’ browsers to save copies of your website files locally, so they’re faster to load in the future. Caching eliminates the need to fetch certain files from your web server every time a visitor returns to your site, which makes a big difference for mobile users.
The above optimizations are free, but you can also subscribe to Hummingbird Pro for $6 per month and get a content delivery network, enhanced file compression, automated scans, and uptime monitoring. Hummingbird Pro is also included in a WPMU DEV membership.
Go mobile with WordPress plugins.
While it would be nice for all users to browse on similar devices, that will probably never be the case. With the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, creating a mobile user experience will always be a priority for WordPress site owners, developers, and designers.
Fortunately, WordPress plugins work behind the scenes to make websites mobile-friendly. Don’t turn away half your audience at the door — instead, install a free or a premium plugin to make your websites sleeker, faster, and easier to navigate.
Originally published Apr 5, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated April 05 2021