MobileChief is a new plugin being released by the folks at PluginChief. The goal of the plugin is to ease the process of creating a dedicated mobile site. I was approached by PluginChief about reviewing this new plugin, and I was intrigued. My idea of a mobile site is to grab a responsive theme, and call it a day. I’ve never much concerned myself with any sort of dedicated mobile offering. So I’m a bit of a novice in this area. Why don’t we go ahead and get the MobileChief plugin installed and see what we can accomplish – and while we’re at it, take a look at what else PluginChief has to offer.
The first thing we do, of course, is to install the core MobileChief plugin. If you are unsure of how to do that, WPBeginner has a great article that covers installing plugins. The core plugin is completely free for you to install, so you can get going with this right away! I’ve just installed the plugin to my test website, time to see what it does.
Once the plugin is activated, we are presented with a few options. We have a mobile site manager screen – which won’t do anything yet, we have to make a site! We also have documentation, settings, and the ability to create a new site. Of course, we want to dive in headfirst and make a new site! We select the Create New Site option, and are presented with a couple of theme options, and the ability to name our new site. After saving our choices, we are taken to a configuration screen where we can add whatever pages we will need on our mobile site. If you read some of the info from the plugin devs, one of the features of this plugin is that it does not simply ‘skin’ our site, adding a mobile theme to our site. Rather, this plugin lets you make a completely independent mobile site, with its own content.
My mobile site starts out with 3 default pages (you can add or remove any you wish), and that is all I need to experiment. I can edit each of the pages to add in any elements I need. We have content, media, social, and style elements to choose from – although the media and social elements require additional paid plugins. It’s easy enough to insert text, titles, images, buttons, etc. I just went through and added some various elements to each of the 3 default pages that I started out with. I didn’t run into any problems. The interface feels quite familiar – almost similar in functionality to Gravity Forms. We can insert whatever we need, make our edits, and drag and drop items to get the right order.
What’s it for?
Currently, the purpose of this plugin appears to be giving site owners a way to create mini sites, possibly for promotions, giveaways, contests, etc. As such, you cannot import all of your content to your mobile site. The site lives on it’s own, only displaying whatever content you specifically enter. Also, the site doesn’t get its own domain, it is a URL off of your main site (for instance http://voodoopress.com/mobile-sites/voodoopress-mobile-test/home/), but whenever you make a site, a QR code is generated, and a shortlink is provided – http://goo.gl/giHmE is the corresponding link for my first site. This feeds in to the idea that these sites are mini offshoots – created for a specific purpose. I’ve read that they are working on a way to assign domains to the mobile sites – a feature which could be handy to some.
Conclusion – The Base MobileChief Plugin
I personally wouldn’t have much need for this plugin – I simply don’t run promotions or anything of the sort, VoodooPress is but a simple blog! But you might – the important thing here is that one truly understands what this plugin does. It does NOT simply skin your existing site, any responsive theme can do that. This plugin allows you to create standalone mobile sites with as much, or as little content as you need. The plugin would be great for running any sort of promotional campaign. I can think of dozens of reasons why a business or group would want to use this plugin.
This plugin is quite new, I bet you will see some serious polish, and enhanced funtionality in the coming months. I felt the plugin was fairly easy to figure out the basics. PluginChief have promised that they are working on some quality documentation to help you learn their products. But in the meantime, it’s not hard to learn on your own.
I really only had a couple of issues with the plugin. I was unable to get the site name to ever display. My mobile sites were always called ‘Site Title’, regardless of what I actually named them. Also, the PluginChief.com credit always appears in the footer of the site. Neither of these things is a show stopper, and the issue with the site title might be my fault entirely. I will continue to play with the settings and see what I can fix. One other issue I ran into is a fatal error when trying to get to the documentation – I ran into this on multiple installs. Finally, once the site is named, and the theme chosen – these things don’t seem to be able to be changed. Again, this is probably by design, serving the purpose of the short-lived mini site. Why change these settings? Make a new site!
I haven’t had time to dig in too deep to customization, but if things like the footer credit bother you, I believe themes can be edited/added. So it would stand to reason that a theme could be designed to meet all of my needs – the themes which MobileChief uses are twitter bootstrap based – and shouldn’t be too hard to modify.
All in all, I feel that this plugin can be quite useful for site owners, so long as we understand what it is that this plugin provides. It does make it very simple to quickly get mini sites up and running for campaigns or contests. If this sounds like something you need, why not get it installed to your site and give it a run through! Stick around for our next article on VoodooPress, now that we’ve gotten familiar with the MobileChief base plugin, we are going to run through the various premium add-ons from the PluginChief group to see what else we can accomplish!