This is frequently asked nowadays: “How can I make my vbulletin site more browser friendly with Iphone (or other cell phones)?

As you know regular internet sites (including vbulletin powered forums) are designed to be displayed in larger screen solutions so when you browse them in your iphone or other cell phones, they may look a little weird and awkard to navigate. Considering cell phones with internet capabilities are getting so common, it just natural that more site owners are trying to get their vbulletin forums more cell phone friendly.

Well, there are a few ways to achieve this goal, let’s check them:

1- Using Vbulletin’s built-in ARCHIVE section:

As you know vbulletin has a built-in archive section. It is originally designed for better search engine optimization and its just limited to forum display and thread display but it usually works “good enough” on cell phones too, in comparison to regular forum skin due to archive design’s simplicity.

So if you haven’t already activated it, you can do so and then promote its usage for cell phone owners. Its still not the best solution for cell phones because it is not specifically designed as a cell phone solution, nor it covers non-content sections of the vbulletin (eg. private messaging, member profiles etc.) but it can still be a good (and 100% FREE) solution which can work for some admins.

2- TAPATALK Application:

If you haven’t heard about tapatalk before, here you go:
http://www.tapatalk.com/

Basically it is a iphone application which serves a better browsing experience with phpbb and vbulletin forums. It is spefically designed for this job so is a much better solution than ARCHIVE option and it is free to use (for site owners!).

Yet it also has some catches:
a) Its for iphone only so other cell phone users will not benefit from this solution.
b) Even though it is free for you (forum owner), it has a small fee for users who will use it. It charges iphone owners when they want to install it to their iphones. It is just one time $2.99 payment but having a price tag still means, not every iphone owner will use it.

3- Having a Special Vbulletin Skin for cell Phones:

You can always get a special vbulletin skin designed for your vbulletin and then apply it to your forum via vbulletin admin cp/style manager. Then you can make this skin selectable by members in vbulletin options and your members who use iphone will have an option to use a more clean skin while browsing your forum.

This is -in my opinion- the best solution who seek something friendly for cell phone users but it is also the most difficult because it requires you to get a custom skin designed which is always an expensive practise. If you have experience with web design & vbulletin skinning, you can try to do it yourself by creating a new style set in vbulletin style manager and then customize its templates to have more basic & clean  HTML codes for smaller screens but vbulletin has a lot of templates to customize so be prepared to commit a lot of time for this task. If you want a budget for this, you can always get a proffessional designer for this job. (Nicholas Mercedar of ForumSkin.com will be my recommendation for you if you want a professional designer for this job.) Don’t expect small budgets if you want to go with a custom skin though.

By the way, while you are considering a solution for cell phones, you shouldn’t forget “WAP disaster”. 🙂 As you know not long ago, WAP (A cell phone protocol to browse internet sites) is introduced and many internet sites spent a lot of money to be WAP compatible. They were expecting a lot of visitors from cell phones with WAP compability however they missed the point that cell phones develop faster than techologies developed for them! So while sites were going into WAP, WAP were going into trash can with new cell phone technologies. 😉 After introducing of WAP, cell phones developped in such a way that, they could display normal internet sites without a need to a special cell phone display protocol. Now WAP is obsolete so are sites who were designed according to WAP technology.

Therefore a site owner should always consider this, while seeking solutions for today’s trendy “iphones”. Remember that until you get your “iphone friendly site” online, iphone can be history. 🙂

Hence I suggest cheaper iphone (cell phone) solutions for normal vbulletin site owners and my custom skin solution is for large and professional sites with a lot of traffic and a budget only!