Mobile-friendly impact

So Google announced earlier this year that they’d be introducing further changes to their algorithm to penalise sites that aren’t mobile-friendly, leading many to adopt the phrase Mobilegeddon, in the run up to the implementation on the 21st April. But I can’t help thinking that for all the fanfare and the massess of online discussions about how this could ruin many online businesses, it all ended up being a bit of a damp squib or a latter day Y2K-style issue.

Yes, it was probably more important for high-traffic B2C sites, particularly social media, news and ecommerce platforms that naturally lend themselves to their content being digested on the move via mobile devices. But for B2B sites or even lower traffic blogs (like mine!) I can’t help thinking that the whole impact was over-egged and resulted in significant discussion, research and reworking of websites in the run up to the change.

Having said that, of course it makes sense from a UX perspective to have a website that works in all contexts, orientations and for all screen sizes, but my issue is that the urgency with which many were promoting changes to be made was excessive.

The key issue

But more importantly than that, when you start considering your website traffic in more detail, you’ll see why this mobile-friendly issue may not have been such a big issue after all.

If you think that a typical B2B website, or indeed this blog, may receive anywhere from 5-20% of its traffic via a mobile device. Of that proportion, when you look at Google Analytics, I’ve often seen it further split between tablet devices and mobile devices fairly evenly – so at any one time, a maximum of 10% of web visitors are arriving on the site via a mobile device.

Depending on the design of the platform, it may or may not be a good experience for them – but that’s not the issue here. The key issue is whether an individual has actually searched for your site using Google. Because if they have, and your site isn’t mobile-optimised or responsively designed, then your position in the Google search results may suffer. But remember that the maximum of 10% of web visitors on a mobile device may not be arriving via Google search. They may have bookmarked your site, they may arrive from other inbound links or social referrals – so my contention with ‘Mobilegeddon’ is that the true impact is arguably less than was suggested initially and we’ve been the victim of online scaremongering.

Easy fix

Of course, if your site is based on WordPress (as this one is) then it’s relatively quick and easy to identify a replacement theme that is mobile-friendly or responsive-designed, upload and activate it – and then you’re compliant with the Google algorithm. 

But if you’re managing your site using a different CMS or system, then you might need bit more help and direction. And that’s where Google’s Webmaster Tools come in handy. Once you’ve registered your site with the platform, it’ll be analysed and a report on where any issues (from Google’s perspective) will be made available to you – along with a list of fixes and further advice that you may want to implement. Whether that’s easy or not to implement will depend on your technical ability or the ability of the team or person working on your site, but at least you know where you should be focusing your efforts.

Free test of mobile-friendly status

You can test your site, or any of your competitor sites, using this free Google tool here.

Premium Press offers 50% off WordPress themes

Premium Press, the company behind the WordPress themes of DirectoryPress, ShopperPress and CouponPress are offering 50% off their themes as part of a Halloween special. Just click on the link below and then when you get to the purchase screen, use the code “halloween”. I’ve used DirectoryPress as the system upon which I’ve based Recruiter Network Directory (which you can see here: http://www.recruiternetwork.co.uk/directory/) and on Oil and Gas Recruiter Directory (which you can see here: http://www.oilandgasrecruiter.co.uk/directory/).


In terms of out of the box functionality, the themes can’t be faulted. They’re easy to install and include an abundance of payment gateways so that you can straight away begin to monetize your site. There’s lots of powerful features too, but once configured you can almost sit back and let the sites manage themselves. The only intervention required is for WordPress updates or responding to contact form enquiries. 

Fix for RSS Error: WP HTTP Error: name lookup timed out

wordpressI’ve just had a minor hassle trying to sort out the RSS Error on a different site that I maintain, but after searching for a solution online and not finding one, I had to figure out something myself – so I’ve posted my solution here. It’s actually really simple too… so that’s a bonus.

If you use sub-domains with the latest version of WordPress v3.x – and try to use RSS feeds to cross populate them, for some reason, all of a sudden you may start getting this WP HTTP Error. I followed all of the advice online, from consulting with my host, deactivating and re-activating plugins, and re-installing WordPress. Nothing worked.

So, the simple solution is pass to the feeds through an external feed generator/management provider, such as Feedburner. You can still use exactly the same feeds, but as they’re now routed through an external service, WordPress doesn’t seem to have a fit about the redirects any more… and, hey presto, you’re back up and running again.

Good plugin: WordPress Socializer

I’ve come across another good plugin that I like and have decided to add to my site(s) – it’s called the WP Socializer.

It’s an all-in-one plugin that includes links to all of the popular social networking / media web sites, but importantly, it allows a fair amount of customisation too. If you click on the full version of this post, you can see the plugin in effect, with the email, print, facebook, linkedin and twitter icons appearing rather faintly just at the top of the post. 

Read more

Animated slide out WordPress plugin like NY Times

If you’ve noticed the NY Times or other online publications have now started using a slide out tool and thought it was pretty fancy – then you may be pleased to know (as I was) that there’s a helpful, free plugin that allows you to achieve the same effect on your WordPress blog.

Read more

Adapt your WordPress site for mobiles

There’s a relatively easy way of making sure your WordPress site or blog is readily accessible from the growing number of smartphones and mobile devices out there, whilst still retaining much of the functionality and style that you’ve worked so hard to create with your site.

WP Touch is a handy, free plugin that will simply reformat your WordPress site if it detects that is being viewed on a mobile browser. It doesn’t change the viewing experience in a traditional browser on a desktop or laptop, but works behind the scenes to make your site that much easier to view and navigate on a mobile device.


WordPress Android plugin

This is my first chance to use the Android WordPress plugin and I have to say that despite the small screen on my HTC, it’s actually fairly easy to use. In fact, this post is being written on my mobile!

I think my biggest reservation about the app was typing a long post and not being able to save it in draft format, or losing the info somehow. Well, the app allows me to save drafts and return to them at a later date to edit and/or publish. And it’s fast too; faster than I expected it to be.

I think the biggest advantage of the app will come from being able to view and moderate any blog posts whilst I’m on the move. It should help make the blog a bit more interactive, responding to visitors more quickly – but also allowing me to make micro-posts on the move.

I’d give it 4 stars out of 5 overall. It’s missing some of the advanced plugins I have on my desktop, but for remaining connected and up to date whilst mobile, I can see it becoming invaluable.

Kindle and wordpress

Amazon Kindle 3GThe more I play around with the Kindle the more uses I’m finding it for it. Already there’s a plugin that can be used with WordPress to benefit Kindle owners/users. It’s called Kindle This (more info below HERE). And if you’re wanting to publish your blog to Kindle – then you can do so now – and it’s actually surprisingly easy, taking around 10 minutes to do; info on this, including step by step instructions is included below HERE.

Read more

GD Star Rating records IP addresses

The rating plugin that I’ve used on my site is provided by GD Star Rating (link HERE). It’s a powerful, free plugin for wordpress that “allows you to set up an advanced rating and review system for post and comments in your blog using single, multi and thumbs ratings.” More information is available on the wordpress.org web site HERE.

A summary of features is detailed below – but one of the really useful and perhaps underplayed features that is included within the rating system is the ability to record IP addresses of the visitors that vote on the various posts. A quick lookup using http://whois.domaintools.com revealed some interesting facts for me, when I was looking at the latest batch of votes… all of which occurred within minutes of each other today, and all originating from my ex-employer’s IP address! Surely people have better things to do than visit my personal web site and try to rank down my own posts?! But apparently not…

Read more

How to build WP Pagenavi into your WordPress theme

It’s surprisingly easy actually… you just need to make sure you edit the theme in all the right places.

I used this resource here to guide me on how to best to achieve this: http://themeshaper.com/how-to-build-wp-pagenavi-into-your-wordpress-theme/

Code example after the link…

Read more