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Web Development

Guidelines for creating a Mobile version of a Joomla site

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A selection of smartphonesI have noticed, recently that many Joomla users are looking for some ideas for the best way to create a mobile version of a joomla site.

It is evident that the demand for running a Joomla site on a smartphone, simple mobile device or, indeed, tablet, with its small display and navigation problems, is increasing exponentially.

To this end, I shall give here a really cut-down summary of what you need to know, first. Further research will also be needed, because each user’s demands may be different and because the whole issue may not be as simple as it appears, at first glance.

One user correctly suggested that:

there must be all sorts of different ways; I guess the simplest way to do this is to have a separate css file which loads depending on screen resolution;

Then he asked:

however is there another way of designing a mobile version of a website that you recommend? i.e a completely different template, and if this is the case how do you get a different template to load for a mobile device only?

I give this reply to those who are curious. It is simplified, but should make the basics quite clear:

There are, as you correctly suppose, many ways of doing this, dependent upon how close to a ‘real’ mobile app is what you want to create.

Here are some of them:

  • Use a mobile-friendly template.

    This gives a view in a simple mobile browser that is adequate enough for reasonable navigation. In a fully fledged smartphone browser, it may look similar to how it looks on a desktop or laptop machine.

  • Use multiple templates and/or extension(s) to achieve this.

    The template will be switched to a special one, when a connection from a mobile device is detected, but normal, when a full browser is seen as the originator. There may be different mobile templates, depending on the User Agent – Android/iPhone etc. and possibly browser used, on that phone/tablet. A good extension will sort all this mess out for you, to some degree or another.

    You can get on over to the Joomla Extensions Directory, to check the available mobile extensions.

  • Check out ‘Weever Apps’.

    Weever AppsThis is a new application that they claim turns any Joomla site into something very close to a ‘real Web App’. It is in its infancy, but you can trial it for a month without charge. If you like it, it costs only $30.

    My opinion, on trialing it, is that it has a lot of potential (it does work as claimed), but needs further development.

    It all depends on what you need/want, as to whether this is for you.

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