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V. CMS-Based Mobile Sites

Almost all new websites use an underlying Content Management System as the base for the coding and managing the site. Generally, CMS applications can be used to build a mobile-optimized versions of a site as well, and many CMS's have specific tools to make this transition easier.
CMS-based mobilization solutions represent the future of the mobile web. They're much easier than hand coding and more flexible than mobilization services like MoFuse and Mippin. At the same time, CMS mobile tools are still new and best practices from creating sites in specific CMS's are still emerging.
In general, there are several benefits of using a CMS to build a mobile site, including:

  • A stable code base that will most likely be updated as new technology is introduced.
  • A learning curve that is not as steep as custom coding.
  • A site that's much easier for non-technical users to update and create content.
  • For many CMS, mobile-specific tools that make converting your site much easier.

Although modern CMS application have many benefits, there are a few drawbacks to using them to create mobile sites:

  • As discussed above, CMS-specific tools are new and best practices are still emerging. Check with your CMS's development community for more information.
  • Mobile support may not be included out of the box, and modifications might be necessary to make the site mobile-compatible.
  • Overall less control over the code base for the site - this can make troubleshooting mobile display options very difficult. 

As mentioned above, several CMS applications provide useful tools for creating mobile optimized sites. The Drupal CMS, used by a growing number of legal aid websites, has several tools available that will help with the conversion to mobile. These include:

Utilizing CMS tools is often not enough to make a usable mobile web. Very long articles still need to be “chunked.” Interactive PDFs, referral pages to HotDocs or other document assembly, and on-line intake should probably be excluded. The PTLA mobile site created a mobile subdomain, m.ptla.org to facilitate domain switching, simplified some content, provided some alternative content and eliminated interactive pdfs, references to HotDocs and other content inappropriate for mobile use. For video, the site switched to YouTube links and eliminated embedded video. There is a link to switch between mobile and desktop if desired by the user.

Currently several legal aid organizations use the DLAW template for Drupal. DLAW is going through a major update to move the template to Drupal 7. One of the options under consideration with the template upgrade is more mobile integration. More information on this should be available in early spring 2012.


For more information, see these resources
Drupal Mobile Overview
Drupal and Mobile are friends
Drupal Mobile Blog
Basics of Making Mobile Websites with Drupal
or visit Drupal.org’s Mobile Group