April 2016 Update: After great effort I have had to deactivate WPTouch. Their support including the founder were never able to get the cache operational. This caused much stress on my severer resources and many crashes. So ultimately the effort on my part just was not worth it. And the support was inadequate. For while I just used a responsive theme but now I use a mobile plugin provide by and supported by my ad network AdThrive. While I somewhat preferred the appearance of WPTouch, I now can use normal cache on W3 and a CDN. Plus I don’t need to maintain two separate sets of ads and plugins… so much less work.
Hi food bloggers or just plain bloggers. Going mobile is all the rage for blogs or any web site these days.
I always try to be a good blogger… I was one of “first kids on the block” with a recipe index, I work on my photography (maybe more next year) and I try to post regularly.
So with about 60% (and climbing) of my traffic being mobile, it is time to give them the best experience. But how? I have use a wonderful Word Press theme called Foodie. It is a child theme of the Genesis Framework. Foodie is responsive and passes the Google mobile friendly testing tool with not problem.
So what’s the problem? I fear it is not good enough. It is responsive for mobile users. But responsive still downloads large files and even for me it is a bit clumsy to use. Not quit up to my standard.
I have been on the hunt for 3-4 months. Even before the Google mobile friendly mandate, I mainly wanted responsive images initially but soon began to realize that was not the main problem for my readers.
So what I wanted:
- I like my Foodie theme. I don’t want to move from that for the desktop and tablet market. Plus lots of things I depend on are Genesis related.
- I don’t want to maintain a second website. No double entry. I’m OK with some initial set up but it needs to be mainly setup and leave it alone. So no separate mobile site.
- It needs to support multiple ads and multiple networks.
- My site is very quick on the desktop/tablet market. Pingdom times under 1 second usually. So I want to maintain what got me here. I also need compatibility with my CDN and Cloudflare. Plugin compatibility is a must for Easy Recipe, W3 and Yoast.
- Affordable. I don’t want large monthly charges or the expense of custom. I wanted to buy it. I’m OK with some ongoing yearly fees but not hundreds of dollars per month.
- I still want responsive images but it can wait.
Well I think I found it. WPTouch Pro.
First a summery of my setup. I run Word Press on a VPN hosted by Bluehost. I have lots the bells and whistle. I’m running Foodie which is a child theme under the Genesis framework. Foodie gives me some very nice perks like a great recipe index and a clean design.
I have 17 plugins running. Some are for security, some for performance and some for appearance. The important ones for this discussion will be Genesis Simple Hooks, Yoast SEO, Easy Recipe Pro and W3. In addition to the plugins, I use Cloudflare and have a CDN (MaxCDN).
I wanted responsive images but for the extra $110 I put that on hold for now. I will just get it up and running first. It may be a later add-on. So I sprung for the $119 version for 5 web sites since I needed the ad extension. Time to be a little catty… the 20% discount that was for the month on May did not work on May 31… really. But I’ll live.
Download and install like other plugins and just follow the authorizations. Easy. Now go to Core Settings and set that to nobody or administrator . Don’t forget to save your change at the bottom of the page, I tend to forget. Now the public will not see you play around.
There were some well time emails to help you. The first dealt with cache programs (more on that later). It directed me to their site. (You will need to set up an account). The cache instructions were at https://support.wptouch.com/support/solutions/articles/5000537668-optimizing-caching-plugins-for-mobile-use. I followed the W3 Total Cache instructions. Very clear and well done.
Time to pick a theme. I expect most food bloggers will pick either Bauhaus or CMS. I went with CMS. I liked the slider and there is a category menu I liked. You need to pick now since you will be doing customization. Once you pick a theme, download it and make a copy (just press the button). You will make your changes on the copy. While you’re there, also download Mobile Content, Infinity cache and Multi-Ads. I also went with the jQuary extension.
By activating the Mobile Content extension, I could fix one of the most important issues to me… the Recipe Index. Foodie uses “Widgetized Page” to create a great recipe index that features lots of pictures. I really love it. But it will not work here. This took me a day to design and create a text based category list with some pictures that will do nicely at least for now.
Next I need my “sidebar” still. Widgets and some of the ads go there. Of course it will be at the bottom. Instructions at https://support.wptouch.com/support/solutions/articles/5000537513-common-customizations#customallthemes . Again excellent and clear. This does involve editing the PHP file and doing FTP to your site. So you need to be able to do those things.
Now for some more editing of files. I (and probably you) have lots of “goodies” tucked into various spots like header and footers using both Genesis Simple Hooks and Genesis Theme Settings. You will no longer be running inside Genesis when WPTouch is the theme. All those things need to be copied into the correct locations for WPTouch. Do not remove them from the desktop theme, just copy them so they work when the mobile theme loads.
So using the instructions at https://support.wptouch.com/support/solutions/articles/5000523484-advertising I copied some ad loading code for the header. I also copied Google site verification (needed?) and Google Analytic code also into the same positions. Think of this as the header location.
Next I took any “footer” code into the Site Footer box in Theme Settings/Branding. Now all my ad networks loading code was set. Next I to set up the ads. I went thought lots of trials with this and I think I have them set for now.
So time to turn it all on. I “flipped the switch” for everybody to see it. And it crashed… the web site and the dashboard would not load so now way to reverse it. And it all happened 20 minutes before my scheduled complete backup. NOT GOOD!
So time to call my pals at BlueHost support. Long story short. At that exact time, I was attacked. Major league from east Europe. They cut them off and it all worked. A BlueHost note. I love Bluehost support. I’m fairly computer literate but have talked with them many times over the last 18 months and I have only had one bad experience. That is really good folks.
I continued to have crashes and lock-ups for the next three days. It appeared to be one ad unit but I was wrong. It was the cache extension. I turned it off and no problems since. I suspect an interaction problem between W3, MaxCDN and Cloudflare. There was just too much caching going on. There is now an update to that extension so I may try it again soon.
I have yet to start the jQuery extension. A little chicken after the cache issue. I need to do these things on my days off so I have time to deal with problems and not on my extremely busy weekends.
So I have been running crash free for 2 weeks. My ad revenue is back to prior level. My page views seem up about 10%. But it is only 2 weeks and a little early for these stats to be considered solid.
Final take home on all this.
A great value. You couldn’t do this with custom programing, And you can set it up yourself. I would say it is a 10-15 hour job with half that being my recipe index. But if you’re just starting or on a shared host and if your site passes the Google Mobile Testing tool, you should have other priorities for both your time and money. If your blog is a successful blog, give it a try. I consider this a must have for my blog.
April 25 2016