Review: OnSwipe plugin/theme for iPad

A few days ago we mentioned that OnSwipe released their plugin/theme combo to easily make an iPad friendly version of your WordPress site. We took a look at it today and we’ll fill in some of the blanks that aren’t obvious until you actually try it and look around the UI. Basically this plugin will almost “auto-magically” convert your existing WordPress site into an iPad friendly site.

Still confused to what this will do for you? If you’re using a modern WordPress theme, this plugin will automatically “convert” your WP site into something that looks like it’s custom-made for the iPad. People visiting your website on a regular desktop/laptop browser will continue to see the regular WordPress theme and people on an iPad¬† (it doesn’t work on iPhone yet) should see a special version of the site.

Let’s walk through a typical installation. For this example, we’ll use a test site for one of my clients, “Beautiful Day Photography.” I am currently converting her site from Flash to WordPress (yay!). On this project for now I am currently using the Graphpaper Press theme Modularity.

So once you’ve downloaded, installed, and activated the OnSwipe plugin, you’ll go to Appearance and select the OnSwipe options. You’ll see a control panel like this:

Onswipe ipad wordpress ui

We tried to upload a transparent PNG logo but it didn’t like it until resized it exactly to 200×200. You can choose which image to display on the home (“launch”) page. You can also select from a set of non-standard web headline fonts and a skin background color. There are no other options on the backend other than this panel. One thing we noticed is that there isn’t a way to specify an iOS home page bookmark/launch icon in this interface.

So what will your visitors see? Your custom logo will appear on the splash page of the site when a visitor goes to the site on an iPad. The user will have to swipe their finger right to left to “open” the page.

Next they’ll see a page like this:

Onswipe ipad wordpress

As you can see this plugin was able to take the home page content using the Graph Paper Press theme and reformat it automatically for the iPad’s screen size. It even displayed the NextGen photo gallery on inner pages as well. Unfortunately there’s no swiping support built into NextGen gallery plugin yet so the experience isn’t seamless as it could be.

One of the things we noticed is that for now OnSwipe plugin isn’t going to do anything for iPhone 4 Safari or Android web browsers yet. We’re surprised that this plugin doesn’t support iPhone Safari since it’s essentially the same thing as an iPad.

If you’re looking to set up a quick and easy iPad experience for your WordPress site, you can’t beat OnSwipe and best of all it’s now free. If you’re site happens to be on WordPress.com, you’ll notice that Automattic has already added this plugin for you.

Get it: OnSwipe theme/plugin

Update: Here’s a quick preview plus video of the newest version of OnSwipe coming in late June!

Theme company spotlight: Graph Paper Press

You have probably noticed there a lot and I mean a lot of commercial WordPress theme companies out there. It seems like a new one is popping up every month. Let’s take a quick look at one of the veterans, Graph Paper Press.

Graph Paper Press specializes in photography focused themes so the grid paper metaphor and minimal use of text is prevalent in most of their themes. So you’ll see a lot of big photos blocks and less emphasis on text. The great thing about GPP is they give away most of their themes away for free use along with some light documentation. If you need support, then you’ll have to pay of course.

Let’s take a quick look at two of my favorite themes:¬†Workaholic and Berlin.

workaholic-gpp.png

Workaholic is a photography/art portfolio theme that I use at my SGVPhotos.com site. It has a home page intro and rows of 3 across thumbnails. When you rollover the thumbnails, it reveals the title and category. It’s perfect when you think pictures are worth a thousand words.

When you drill down to an inner page, there are tabs that will allow the visitor to see multiple photos on the same page via AJAX. There’s also an automatically generated list of similar photos to the right. As a testament to the solid code behind it, I was using a version of Workaholic that is several versions behind the current version and I recently upgraded the site from WordPress 2.8 to 3.04 and the site still works beautifully with the older Workaholic theme.

berlin-gpp.png

Berlin is a deviation from their usual that’s meant for both photos and text. It has a large article block in the left column and there’s a smaller right column that can be used to show posts or other widgets. It’s very easy on the eyes and it’d be great for a magazine or news blog. I haven’t used Berlin myself so other than seeing the front end, I don’t know about the workflow and backend usability.

So hats off to the Graph Paper Press folks for giving back to the WordPress community in such a big way with a ton of polished free to try themes.

Get it: Workaholic | Berlin