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South African WordPress theme company, Obox Design, has recently made some significant developments in the area of theming for mobile devices. “Obox Mobile” is their new flagship offering, a mobile theme framework that “seamlessly converts your WordPress site into a mobile friendly experience when people visit it via their phones”.
I recently had the opportunity to work with Obox Mobile and put the framework through its paces.
First off, it’s important to note that the product is advertised as a “mobile theme framework” and not as a “mobile theme”. This subtle difference embodies the true power and potential future of Obox Mobile. While the product comes bundled with three professionally crafted themes (more on those in a moment), the plugin has been developed with a structure that allows for the straightforward creation of custom themes without having to delve too deeply, if at all, into WordPress theme code.
The hard work and effort that went into the development of the core theme code and the comprehensive administrative options screen allows for an enhanced user experience for everyone, from a first time WordPress user to a tech-charged coding guru. Obox Mobile is ready to use right out of the box.
When asked about the motivation behind Obox Mobile, as well as his vision for the company, David Perel, co-founder of Obox Design, said: “…we want to try something different. We don’t just want to be a theme company. We have wanted to make a tool, plugin, framework hybrid and this seemed like a good play. In terms of business there is only one real player in this niche space, namely WPTouch by Brave New Code, so we felt that there was a gap to be taken while the competition is wide open.”
“We would like to see an uptake of its use by website developers,” Perel continued. “The Child Theme feature, for example, really enables developers to make some good money off the plugin by creating a custom look and feel for their clients.”
With the release of Obox Mobile, the team has crafted two clean and tidy themes to get you started. Along with this, Obox entered into a partnership with another South African theme company WooThemes that sees “WooMobile”, designed by Mark Forrester of WooThemes, released with Obox Mobile, making up the third bundled design.
The partnership promotes the use of Obox Mobile as the preferred mobile theme plugin for both Obox Themes and WooThemes going forward, with the integration of specialised features used in themes released by both companies.
“It can be difficult being competitors in quite a large, and voca,l community of WordPress users,’ says Forrester. “We felt the Obox Mobile project would be a good first project to collaborate on, as mobile optimisation was a feature we’ve always wanted to add to our theme offering, but had not had the time to explore. Seeing our themes were developed using a similar methodology, and both our themes rely on a stable, scalable theme framework we were happy to entrust this feature with Obox Design.”
If you’re not too keen to delve deep into theme code, then you’re in luck. As with WordPress, the Obox Mobile framework is scalable to suit any and all user levels. At base level, the plugin allows for a custom logo, a background image, advertising management, custom images per post (using one of several options, depending on your main WordPress theme in use), a featured posts slider and more. All of these features are controlled from a neatly crafted administration screen, allowing for hassle-free creation of a professional mobile WordPress solution.
Check out the Obox Design blog for more information on creating custom themes for Obox Mobile.
Ultimately, Obox Mobile brings with it several exciting new developments for WordPress theming, as well as the WordPress user community at large. At a price point of US$50, Obox Mobile is a professional, affordable mobile solution for WordPress-powered websites.
While it is still young, I believe the passion behind the project will bring about steady growth and development of this exciting mobile WordPress theme framework.
Did I mention that Obox are giving away an iPhone 4 to one lucky winner who purchases Obox Mobile between now and (approximately) October 22nd, 2010? For more information, read the Obox Mobile launch post on the Obox Design blog.