Create a mobile redirect to your app or mobile site

Posted on Nov 9 2014 - 12:28pm by Eric Tompkins

This is an alternative to Responsive Design. If you have created a mobile version of your website or a web app, you’ll need to be sure that you redirect your mobile visitors to your mobile website. For example, if someone visits domain.com on their phone, you’ll need a way to redirect them to m.domain.com (the mobile version of your site created on a subdomain called “m“). You could also use this to redirect to any other page created for mobile only.

Redirecting to a mobile version?

If you think about how your redirect actually works, in theory it’s quite understandable – “If the user is using a mobile device, redirect them to the mobile version of the site“. The problem is that when people visit your website, their web browser does not know whether, “I am a mobile device” or “I am a desktop computer“. Instead, the browser introduces itself by providing a “user-agent“, which includes the browser name, version, and other information about your operating system.

To redirect a mobile visitor, you’ll need to determine if their browser is a web browser on a mobile device or not.You can determine which browser the visitor is using. You can also look at other things such as their screen resolution and whether they accept file types that are common to mobile devices. Below we’ve listed a few methods you can use to redirect visitors to the mobile version of your website.

Using Plugins to redirect

If you are running a Content Management System (such as WordPress or Joomla), there may be plugins already available that help with handling mobile visitors. The best way to find these plugins is to either search Google or to search the software’s website.

Simple Mobile URL Redirect

Equivalent Mobile Redirect

Javascript window.location Method

Because mobile phones typically have a small screen width, you can redirect visitors to your mobile site if they have a screen width of less than or equal to 800 pixels. You place this code in the head section of your main website code. That way when your site is visited, the javascript will see the browser width and redirect to the appropriate site

You can use the following code to do this:

Note! While testing this on a SAMSUNG smart phone, the screen resolution varied based upon how the phone was held. To get the best results, you may have to test with various smart phones.

Please keep in mind however that if the user does not have javascript enabled, this will not work.

.htaccess URL rewrite redirects

You can use a .htaccess redirect to transfer visitors based upon the MIME types the browser supports. For example, if the user’s browser accepts mime types that include WML (Wireless Markup Language), then most likely it is a mobile device.

The code below should be placed in your .htaccess file:

Tags: mobile redirect, mobile redirect url

About the Author

Eric Tompkins is an Experienced Web Developer and Digital Media Professional. As well as a Professional Photographer and Technical Instructor. You can follow on Twitter @_codemics.