Why & how to optimize your genealogy blog for mobile devices via BloggingGenealogy.com
If you don't have a smartphone or if you have never tried to read a blog with your smartphone, you don't realize how hard [Read: nearly impossible] it is for your readers to actually read your blog posts.

According to the recent Pew Report on Mobile [Sept 2012] , more and more people are using smartphones to access the Internet.

And you might be thinking, "Well, Caroline, most people access my blog through an RSS reader like Google Reader and that's already optimized for mobile so why should I even bother with making sure my blog is optimized as well?"

My answer? Mostly those in the online genealogy world are accessing your blog through RSS because that's what is taught in presentations and webinars. The John Q Public is not accessing your blog through an RSS reader. In fact, if you are active on other social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or LinkedIn, you're probably [Read: Should be] promoting your blog posts ~ with a link back to your blog post. Every time you do this, a blog visitor is NOT reading your blog post with an RSS Reader, but with a direct link from whatever device they're using wherever they might be.

Further, I've written before about what a Cousin Hunter's main goal with a genealogy and family history blog is - to attract cousins [or other researchers of the same family lines] so that you can collaborate with them. And? Not all of these folks - if any - will be coming from the genealogy and family history blog population.

It's nice and can be helpful to connect with other genealogy and family history bloggers, but not all [and I say, "not all" because I have, indeed, connected with other gen bloggers who turned out to be cousins] will end up being related to you. [I mean, what would be the odds of that happening - ALL your cousin connections from gen bloggers?!?]

This is really about knowing who your target audience is ~ anyone who happens to be looking online through different means [Google Search, Social Media Networks, etc.]. That's who.

So let's take a look at a Weebly site and a Blogger blog [both mine] and see what they actually look like when they are NOT optimized for a mobile device.
Family Stories on Blogger NOT optimized for mobile.
How & why to optimize your genealogy blog for mobile via BloggingGenealogy.com
4YourFamilyStory.com on Weebly NOT optimized for mobile.
In the Lagniappe Newsletter extra blog post I called what a mobile device user has to go through to actually read a non-optimized-for-mobile-devices blog post as Finger Yoga. A better description would be the Kindergarten game of Alligator. Remember the hand motion for the Baby Alligator? Bringing your thumb and index finger together and back out to an 'L' shape - THAT aptly describes the pinching and expanding motion of what a mobile device user must go through in order to read your blog post. [Or they could just double tap, but I've read before that most users prefer to use the Baby Alligator motion over the double tap.] 

Also, there are some added swiping features on the Blogger Platform that are really, really sensitive so a reader can go to previous or next blog posts. Now, I don't have 'fat fingers', but when I'm in the middle of trying to zoom and expand the blog posts on my iPhone I always end up on a previous blog post or the next blog post and NOT the blog post I was trying to read.

And quite frankly, nothing you write and nothing I write is worth all that work. It's a big pain. Personally, I've visited so many blogs via a direct link using my iPhone and I've pretty much have memorized those blogs that are not optimized. And I don't click on their links anymore. I move on to the next one. [Think about that. Who else is skipping without reading?]

Here's what both of my blogs look like on my iPhone once they are optimized for mobile devices. I scrolled passed the blog headers in the screenshots so that you could see the blog posts. [Please note that optimizing your blog for mobile devices does not change how your blog looks on a desktop or laptop. It will still look the same with its sidebar(s) as it does now. However, the sidebar(s) are dropped in mobile view when optimized.]:

Why & how to optimize your genealogy blog via BloggingGenealogy.com
4YourFamilyStory.com on Weebly optimized for mobile.
Why & how to optimize your blog for mobile via BloggingGenealogy.com
Family Stories on Blogger optimized for mobile.
At this point, I hope I've made it clear that it's probably a good idea to optimize your family history blog so that your readers, who happen to not be tethered to a desktop or an office, can read your well-crafted prose and stare into the eyes of your ancestors from long ago hoping to see their reflection and their connection to you. 

Now? The How-To with fancy screenshots. ;)

Steps to optimize your Blogger Blog for mobile devices:

1. Starting in the Edit or Design Mode, select Template in the menu on bottom left hand side of the screen. [Click on the thumbnail to see the larger image of the screenshot.]

2. If your blog is NOT set to be optimized for mobile devices, you'll see the option in gray scale. Click on the Gear Icon. [Click on the thumbnail to see the larger image of the screenshot.]

3. Click on the box next to Yes. You can also change the view for the mobile device, but I suggest you leave that to Default. You can also Preview what it will look like. Once you have it optimized, click Save. And then you're done. [Click on the thumbnail to see the larger image of the screenshot.]

Below are the steps to optimize your Weebly site for mobile devices:
1. In the Edit mode, select Settings. [Click on the thumbnail to see the larger image of the screenshot.]

2. Select Mobile Settings. [Click on the thumbnail to see the larger image of the screenshot.]

3. Click the box to Enable Mobile. You can also set a theme color. I left mine white. Then Save. Then Close the pop-up box that appears reminding you to Publish your site in order to see the changes. [Click on the thumbnail to see the larger image of the screenshot.]

4. Select Publish. And you're done. [Click on the thumbnail to see the larger image of the screenshot.]

It's important to remember who and why you are publishing a genealogy and family history blog, and then make it easier for your target audience to read it. The easier it is for folks to read your blog, the more likely they'll stick around long enough to find out if they have a connection to you on your family tree. And maybe - just maybe - they'll contact you.

Any questions? Please let me know in comments below or Contact Me.

Happy Blogging!
11/14/2012 14:54:21

Great post!
In Wordpresss go to Appearance in the Dashboard -> Mobile and select “Enable mobile theme” option.

Caroline Pointer
11/14/2012 17:43:32

Thanks, Tokeloshe, for the Wordpress instructions. Very much appreaciated. =)

And? Thanks for stopping by and reading!


11/15/2012 00:18:18

This is excellent advice. I have to look into it. I'm not sure whether I have Blogger Blog or Wordpress or whether authorsxpress is something different. I'll try to contact the social media people at the publisher that set up the blog. I'd also like to learn how to do the whole "Notify me of other comments" or "Subscribe to this blog" thing. I'm embarrassed that I didn't set up my own blog from the get-go, so that I know how to do these things. You make a great argument for optimizing a blog for mobile devices!

11/15/2012 02:26:51

Thanks so much for this excellent post. I checked out the status of my blog for optimization for mobile devices and found, to my surprise, that it was already set properly. However, I'd never looked at how the blog looks on a mobile device. Now that I have, it will give me a better idea of what not to do in my blog page design.

11/16/2012 18:27:47

So practical and helpful! Your blogs are always must-reads for the specificity for a slightly-techy newby in the blogging world. I've never read blogs on my smartphone, so I should probably check that out while I'm out and about! Thanks again.

11/21/2012 20:39:46

Thanks for the tip. I checked and my blog was optimized. Yeah! The design might need to be tweaked a bit, but at least you won't have to do the alligator motion to read mine. Hooray!

11/24/2012 12:32:37

I use a reader and my blog looks fine in it. I must admit that prior to reading this post I had not given much thought to those others who do not. When I tested my blog on my smartphone, it was ugly. I love this post and now I want to be able to optimize my WordPress blog--thanks to Tokeloshe, I can and thanks to Caroline I know why I should..


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