Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to turn on a mobile theme / template for blogs in Blogger

This article explains why mobile mattes for some blogs (but not all), what tools Blogger has provided to help with this, and how to set up a mobile theme (aka template) for your blog.  It also links to Google's mobile testing tool, which shows you how your blog looks on a mobile device.

By default, when someone uses a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device to look at your blog, they see the "full site" just like they would if they were using a PC.   The pages aren't set up to work well on their small screen, but they have access to all the features and gadgets you've installed.

In some cases, this is fine.  For example, when I first wrote this article, I looked at the statistics for this site and hardly any of the visitors were mobile.   However now, a couple of years later things have changed and I've implemented a mobile theme for this blog.

But for other blogs, especially ones that have maps and other location-information or which people read on the go, having a mobile-friendly theme is very important:   for example, on my public-transport blog, over 25% of visitors are using mobile, and that figure is growing.  Making my site work well for these visitors is definitely important for its long-term future (and my short term advertising revenue!)

What's available

Blogger have made a set of mobile themes, to match the standard Designer Themes, and so far only one to match the Dynamic theme(s).

We cannot control the layout of gadgets on these - when the screen is only 300-ish pixels wide, there's not much room to move.

But we can add and remove gadgets, and also by choosing a custom template get colour settings that match our main blog.

How to enable a mobile theme / template for your blog

Log in to Blogger using an account with administrator rights to the blog.

Go to the Themes tab.

If your blog has a Designer or Dynamic theme, then there will be a Mobile option to the right of the "Live on Blog" area.

If the blog is not set up to use a mobile theme ,then the word Disabled will be in the middle of the picture area - although it may be hard to read if your base template (chosen in the Live on Blog area) has a picture behind it.

Click on the gear-wheel underneath the picture to see the mobile options.

Select "Yes.  Show mobile template on mobile devices."

Either leave the mobile template on Default, or select one of the other options.
  • If you choose Default, your mobile template will use the standard template matching your desktop template.
  • If you choose Custom, your mobile template will use the colour-scheme and various features from your desktop template, and you will be able to makes changes to these settings.

Use the Preview button if you want to see what your blog will look like with the selected template on a mobile device.

When you are happy with your selection, press Save.

What your readers see

Visitors to your blog who are using a desktop PC (or laptop or netbook or any other machine with a full-size screen) won't see anything different.

Readers who are using an internet-enabled cellphone (ie smartphone), tablet, iPad, etc will see a different view:
  • They won't have a sidebar
  • The gadgets will be limited (unless you add some extra ones) and in the header and footer only
  • On the home-page there will just be the title, thumbnail and snippet for each post, and a button for read-more (this is irrespective of where you've put the jump-break) - notice that the usual methods of giving your blog a home-page don't always work.
  • Custom styles that you have added to the template may not be applied (this has happened on one blog where I use styles, I'm still investigating whether it's a feature of all mobile templates, or just due to the way I added these particular styles).
  • There will be buttons at the bottom of the page for Home, <   and > .    I think that the latter two refer to older and newer posts (though possible they are the opposite way around from what I expect).
  • There will be a link to "view web version", which lets your visitor switch to to see the blog using the desktop template.

I have a  feeling that there may be some other differences too - very keen to hear about any others you've spotted.

Seeing what your mobile readers see

The absolute best way that I've found to accurately experience my blogs as mobile visitors see them is to use a mobile device myself:
  • Just like preview mode in the Post-editor, the mobile preview mode shows a "look and feel" view, which is not entirely accurate.   For example in the picture above, it shows part of the most-recent article insteaod of just the post title and mini-snippet that I see when I look at the site on my phone.
  • The screen-size testers that I've tried out (ie software tools that mimic showing your website in various different screen sizes) don't actually use the mobile template - I suspect that this is due to the way that Blogger detects mobile devices.

However you can see any blog as it would be on a mobile device by appending /?m=1 to the end of the URL.    For example, to see this blog in mobile, I would look at http://blogger-hints-and-tips.blogspot.com/?m=1      If you're going to use this approach, it's best to re-size your browser window so that it's about 300px wide - from my netbook, that's about 1/3 of the screen size, but it would be less from machiens with bigger screens.

Another approach is to use Google's Mobile Friendly Testing tool, which will
... analyze a URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design.
As well as showing you how your blog looks, it also reports on any issues that have been found.

Related Articles

Adding gadgets to your mobile template.

Removing the attribution from moblile blogs

Showing a Google custom map on your blog

Advertising programmes for websites

Types of Blogger template

Administrator rights to your blog

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  1. Hi. I'm trying to consolidate my FB, Pinterest, Twitter and RSS buttons on my Blogger-supported blog, much like you have done under Subscribe on the right hand side of your page. Can you explain how I can do that? Email is gfphilly [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks for the tips!

    1. I'm just putting the finishing touches on an article about just that - hopefully it will be ready to publish tomorrow.

    2. @Mary C - Looking forward to your article as I want to do this too! :-)

  2. Mary, thanks for the great tutorial. I am working on a materials for an EduOnAir Session tomorrow night and linked your wonderful directions to this post which will be part of the session materials.

  3. I changed my blogger to my domain but when I try to pull up my website on mobile I get a msg that says " Safari cannot open page too many redirects". Any idea how to rectify this? Thanks.

  4. Have you used the make-a-home-page-with-immediate-redirect trick which is the first option on this page: http://blogger-hints-and-tips.blogspot.com/2010/01/setting-what-goes-on-home-page.html ?

    If so, then the too-many-re-directs message is due to a bug in Blogger, which Google haven't fixed yet. It will happen for anyone who looks at your blog with a mobile device not just Safari.

  5. Yes, that is exactly what I did. Any other suggestions for making a home page? Thanks for your response & help.

  6. @Mary
    Off topic-
    Is there any tool to see is my blog breaking any google rule ?
    i dont my blog to be deleted without any reason.

  7. Hi, how can I put a "View Web Version" option to my mobile site? Thanks!

  8. Thanks, looks very helpful, I have been puzzled by how to add 'about me' to my blog in mobile version.