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Is it safe to say that without a vastly improved mobile experience WordPress is in serious trouble?

As a huge fan of the WordPress community and what the software and platform has empowered, I'm seeing a decreasing amount of interest in blogging as my social network turns toward meme-sharing and 140-character quips simply because they're much more conducive to consumption and sharing on mobile.

It's so bad that there are startups trying to fix this like Blogstand (http://blogstand.co - our project). We know that others are attempting the same (and they should be!)




> Is it safe to say that without a vastly improved mobile experience WordPress is in serious trouble?

I would 100% agree with that.


I used to think that "mobile responsiveness" was the "Holy Grail" of smart website design. Now, I've come to the conclusion that most modern mobile devices are completely capable of displaying the full version of most websites.

Every time I use my iPhone to browse to Twitter or LinkedIn I'm taken away from the full site and to a silly "mobile" site that resembles the native app. If I wanted the native app. experience, I'd download and use it! Ever try approving a LinkedIn recommendation using your iPhone? Good luck!

Now think about most business websites...5 pages of text, images, and a touch of javascript... Does their "full site" have content that cannot be displayed properly on a mobile device? No. Is there a benefit to having a second, "mobile" website (one with much less love put into it)? I think not.

It seems to me that many people think that "mobile responsiveness" is such a great thing, but I'm not sure they've really considered whether it's even necessary. I'd bet that most designers who build WP sites on themes that tout "mobile responsiveness" (and have it enabled by default) haven't even considered whether their client needs the second version of their site. Even if they do, I think often times the "mobile" version ends up being an ugly, hardly-tested, bastardized version of the "full site". Just give us the real website, please!


I really like the Dolphin browser on Android, partly because it lets you switch between mobile and "desktop" modes (lies in the agent string). I don't find I have to use desktop mode that often, but its really handy when its there.


You get that option in the native browser, though perhaps it's less fiddly in this "Dolphin".


I have to disagree with this one. Just having a mobile stylesheet with a sane font size and clickable link sizes makes a huge difference on most websites. Take this site for example, reading it is quite difficult on a phone, I'm always finding myself panning/pinch/zooming in comment threads, and I constantly misclick links on the home page.


Don't confuse "mobile responsiveness" with people doing it wrong. Your website should never, under any circumstances try to look and feel like an app. All that does is set behavioural expectations in the user that will not and can not be met. It should look like your website, just with some presentation changes to make it easier to get to the content you want on a device with a smaller screen and touch based input.


> Is it safe to say that without a vastly improved mobile experience WordPress is in serious trouble?

Absolutely. We had the WordPress community summit just last week, and one of the topics we discussed several times was mobile. The WordPress apps are good, but there's improvements that can be made to both the apps and the way they interact with a WordPress install, so plans were made to move this stuff forward. It's definitely something that everyone (especially Matt) is interested in.


I don't agree with your speculation that WordPress is in trouble. Though their may be decreasing amount of interest in blogging but WordPress is still used vastly as a CMS.


Especially when you consider that there are people whose only viewport is mobile devices.


Screen size limitation is a temporary setback. After Google Glasses we'll have unlimited space. As far as the eye can see.


A long-term temporary setback. Even if a) it magically works and does everything, and b) most people get them, you're still looking a span of years before you can count on Glasses users being a significant fraction of your audience.


Yes, because millions of people have $1,500 laying around to solve a software problem with expensive hardware. I sort of contradict myself though, since that's what large sites are already doing with WordPress.


agree, you can also clearly see this in how platforms like tumblr have "evolved" to be peoples place to share short attention-span stuff. Blogging is becoming more of a mixture of FB feeds/twitter for most people.


this saddens me.

the promise of blogging for me has always been the ability to have my own printing press and know that nearly everyone else in the world had access to one as well.

i'm still trying to understand how this "evolution" has actually decreased the quality of communication.


    the promise of blogging for me has always been
    the ability to have my own printing press and know
    that nearly everyone else in the world had access
    to one as well.
You say this and you are surprised that the average level of quality of published material went down? There's almost no way it could do anything else. There are a whole bunch of excellent blogs out there that wouldn't exist otherwise, and there is obviously a lot more communication nowadays. That's where you win: there's a lot more communication, some of which is excellent. Of course the average was higher when there was a higher barrier to entry, but that's not the important metric.


No reason to be sad -- imagine a platform that you can stay on whether you're posting pictures of your food to a few dozen people (as I do) or the NYT FiveThirtyEight blog covering the election, to all of Wired.com. That's democratizing publishing.


That's a great perspective and why I'm head over heels for WordPress as a platform for publishers of all shapes and sizes (and have built a company around it)

Then again, this versatility has its drawbacks. We're constantly challenged by the complexity of building a mobile viewport onto WordPress and present it in a way that makes reading, discussing and sharing this kind of content. The options for publishers are limitless and translating that to mobile in a way that makes sense is really non-trivial.


Mobile WordPress is not something that is going to be done and figured out in a day. As devices and peoples usage patterns evolve, over time we'll have to adjust to this as well. And while all of us take smart phones and tablets for granted now, only a small subset of this world's population has such devices to connect to the Internet. Many use much simpler phones and devices, and so to truly democratize publishing it can't stop with a fancy iOS app.

In core WordPress we'll track our progress and discuss over on the Make/Mobile blog. Feel free to chime in there! http://make.wordpress.org/mobile




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