Making my WordPress site legible on my crummy mobile phone

This blog on a treo screenStuck with my Treo “smart” phone in an airport recently, I decided to navigate over here to my blog via its wimpy browser. The Treo is on Verizon’s 3rd-generation broadband service so even though I have a fair number of pictures on the front page, I figured all would be okay. Nope — the experience was ugly, at best. After burping and hiccuping, the Treo’s browser finally just gave up and said the page was too big to download. Well, that’s no good.

In search of a more mobile-friendly manner to display, I tapped into the rich vein of WordPress plugins. I first stumbled on Alex King’s WP Mobile Edition plugin. But a little tapping around for reviews in Google found some people complaining that King’s plugin killed their search engine rankings by serving a stripped-down mobile version of their sites to the search engines’ indexing robots.

Instead, I opted to install Andy Moore’s WordPress Mobile Plugin. It doesn’t mess with search engines and creates a very stripped down, easily rendered site when it detects a visitor is using a mobile phone browser. And you can choose whether to use a red, blue, green or pink background for your header! You can also choose to treat really advanced mobile browsers, like the iPhone’s Safari, as regular Joe computer visitors and give them the full experience of your blog.

But it’s not quite perfect. On the down side, the free version of the plugin puts ads at the bottom of your mobile site. The unfree version is 25 Pounds, kind of steep for a WordPress plugin. There’s also an annoying bug that prevents the plugin from properly displaying some images when it creates mobile versions of individual posts. Moore explains (in the plugin site’s forums) how to use the WordPress plugin editor to negate two buggy lines of code but, really, shouldn’t the developer just make that fix himself, especially for 25 Pounds?

If you want more options, blogger Speckyboy has a number of other mobile plugins, as well, listed in a blog post a few days ago.