Onswipe 2.0 brings many new layouts, comment support


Onswipe, the business that partnered with Automattic to bring a new form of tablet browsing to blogs on WordPress.com in early 2011, has announced enhancements to their plugin in version 2.0. The new version, which is available on WordPress.org, nearly doubles the total number of available layouts. Layouts in Onswipe control the various ways a site’s table of contents are laid out. Also in this new version adds comment support, which means comments are viewable and can be added to from tablets.

Do you use Onswipe on your blog, or do you prefer to leave your site mostly untouched for tablet visitors? In the past WPCandy readers have seemed to react somewhat negatively to Onswipe, but I’m curious whether or not this 2.0 update will sway anyone over. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

9 thoughts on “Onswipe 2.0 brings many new layouts, comment support

  1. I can barely express the extent of my loathing for Onswipe – I now use this iPad for most of my surfing and my heart drops every time I click through to a site that thinks I need a special “mobile optimized” version.

    Worse, the link down the bottom of Onswipe pages, that you have to click to revert to the normal version, is often inaccessible unless you change the iPad’s orientation.

    When I visit a site, I just want to see the site, I shouldn’t have to jump through hoops. I often ask myself how such rotten design is possible and whether the folks at Automattic, who foisted to mess upon us, actually ever use iPads or iPhones.

    • Hey there, you’re referring to our 18 month old PadPressed plugin, that yes, sucks. The plugin Ryan is referring to and the tech behind slate, geek, bbc, and others isn’t related at all. We’re currently focused on upgrading WordPress.com users very soon so there is feature parity everywhere. Check out slate.com or Forevergeek.com, then let us know your thoughts.

      • Well, no offense intended, but if there is a better version you should consider making it a priority to apply it to WordPress.com because, you know, having 35m sites look like crap is a pretty big minus.

        I checked out Slate, it does look better that the old Onswipe and at least the button to revert to the real site is accessible …. but … I shouldn’t be getting redirected to a special version of the site, the real site looks better and works just fine on he iPad.

        ForeverGeek forces you to jump through more hoops – first you have to notice the settings icon, press it, watch another popup containing just ONE option – “View Desktop Site” – and click that.


        All this for a site that already looks as if it was designed for iPad and substantially better than it’s Onswipe incarnation.

        Again, no offence is intended, but I think the entire premise of your business is deeply flawed – you are selling publishers on an idea based on how badly pre-2007 mobile phones handled the Web and you have somehow convinced them to make your version force any device that can be conceivably be considered to be “mobile” into a time-consuming MANDATORY redirect.

        Onswipe should be an OPTION, a small button at the top of regular pages that users can press if they happen to own a phone with a browser that cannot handle the normal Web … but, of course, your business model depends on being able to foist this upon the far larger number of smartphone and tablet users who do not want it and do not need it.

        Onswipe is a theme masquerading as a business.

        • I concur with every point Donnacha made. Being greeted with OnSwipe (and indeed, other “iPad optimised” layouts) on sites when using my iPad is genuinely depressing. When there’s no easy way to switch to the desktop version of a site, it’s infuriating. It’s like I’m being chained down for no good reason. As Donnacha said, it’s hard to express the frustration and loathing you feel.

          Why serve this bizarre and infuriating format to iPad users? I want the world wide web in my hands. I want to be able to see all of it, and to touch it and experience it the same way I do on my desktop and my laptop. Even my fucking 4 inch Android phone doesn’t get served “optimised” versions of websites half as often. Every user experience designer I’ve spoken to about OnSwipe has been utterly dumfounded with both its idea and its interface.

          My iPad is capable of displaying the entire web in all its technicolor glory. OnSwipe seems to think otherwise and thinks the iPad needs special treatment and to be given a watered-down web. It goes against the whole ethos of having the whole web in your hands. Can you imagine that anyone at Apple is pleased to see an OnSwipe version of a site when they use their iPads?

          To me, it’s such a flawed idea that I fail to comprehend how it has gotten any uptake. I assume their business development managers must be good. Really good. It especially upsets me that Automattic of all companies thought it was a good idea to roll it out onto the entire WP.com network (three of my WordPress.com VIP clients were quick to ensure that it never got anywhere near their sites). Hopefully the whole idea if OnSwipe and “iPad optimised” layouts will go the same way as WML and die a timely death.

        • Its not for everyone, I get that, but here are the facts:

          – its not about serving a “mobile version”, it’s about serving something built for touch and swipe. The web you’re talking about was built for point+click and distasteful ads.

          – a small percentage opt-out and that option is available to anyone.

          – the large percentage that do stay, stay longer and consume 2-3x more content.

          – as far as the business goes, we’ve enabled publishers to make a lot of money with ads that please their readers at the same time. We’re talking brands like Sprint, Verizon, Lincoln, Columbia pictures, and more. The ad engagement rates are better than normal banner ads.

          – agree on WordPress.com, but it’s more complicated than that. Trust me, we’re working on it.

          I get it, you and others that don’t like us, want the normal point and click web. It’s logical and makes sense, but we think these devices were made to be designed for touch and swipe interfaces. Millions of readers a month agree with us and a small fraction also agree with you.

          Thanks for the feedback and discussion!

          • “It’s not for everyone” – and yet your business model pretty much depends upon being able to force it down everyone’s necks, whether they want it or not.

            What I “get” is that you’ve got everything riding on this, so, anything we say makes zero difference, you are now fully committed and cannot afford to admit that it was a terrible idea all along … but you know it.

            The “small fraction of users” you say we belong to seems to include not just designers but EVERYONE who has ever seen the website they want briefly load only to be replaced by the horribly familiar Onswipe redirect. I work all day, every day with people from different backgrounds, levels of education and technical confidence. They express it in different ways but, when they come across Onswipe, the message always boils down to “Oh no, not this shit again, is there anyway to stop this happening?”. I share John’s disappointment that one of my favorite companies, Automattic, has been inexplicably complicit in this mess.

            I would almost give you the benefit of the doubt and believe your assurances that it will all be for the best … except for one small detail: in the ten months since Onswipe became a default setting for tens of millions of WordPress blogs, you never attempted to fix the number one annoyance that practically everyone has. To this day, it is still impossible to reach the “View Standard Site” link at the bottom of Onswipe pages if you are using your iPad in landscape mode – you can bounce the page up for a split-second and see the damn link but you cannot actually press it.

            Please don’t try to tell us that this was not deliberate because the devastatingly simple solution would have been to place the link at the top of each page instead … but, of course, you could not do that because that would have tipped everyone off that they could access the normal version of the site and, despite all your statistics, you know that, given a choice, what people want is the actual Web, not your bland, hermetically-sealed version of it.

            There are a lot of bad ideas out there, a lot of cynical founders and dumb investors, but I rarely waste time expressing my disdain – the good thing about bad ideas is that, usually, they die without touching our lives in any meaningful way. In the case of your particular bad idea, however, it will continue to spoil vast swathes of the Web for everyone until it does finally die and the worst thing is that you almost certainly know that, deep in your heart, but you don’t care. You are essentially an antimatter Tim Berners-Lee, a Bizarro World Steve Jobs.

          • (can’t reply any deeper, so going here)


            Like you said, you work with some educated and smart people everyday, and you’re also one of them – I respect your work.  The mean spirited assumptions of knowing what I believe undermine the valid concerns and screwups we’ve made that you point out.

            We’re not wrong and the hard data supports it.  Every month, millions of people use OnSwipe enabled sites and engage with them more than the normal web.  If they didn’t we wouldn’t be here.  Publishers wouldn’t be adopting the platform and our traffic would have plummeted as readers flock out the door.  

            Youre still referring to the old software on WordPress.com, which we’ve been working endlessly on months to upgrade.  This announcement of the new .org plugin is future proof of it.  We’ve never benefitted financially from our relationship with Automattic. The only benefit we get is that tiny link at the bottom, that sits next to the visit standard site link.  So by not fixing the visit standard site link, we actually receive no benefit.  It is in our best interest to fix it.   This error happens due to the use of a JavaScript Scrolling library and sadly that happens a lot.  We’re in the wrong for the standard site link being harder to reach – not even denying it, this should be fixed.  Automattic has been an awesome partner and the work they+the entire wordpress community has done is why we exist. I hope you can give us the benefit of the doubt.

            The point and click/web as we know it is changing to something made for tablets+touch enabled devices.  Sadly, most of those attempts have been to bring it to the app world and kill the web all together. We’re working on making sure that this change happens and it’s on the web. You want the full web/point+click web and that’s your choice, don’t use us as a publisher and when reading a site that uses us, hit the opt-out button, thats why it’s there. 

  2. I would happily take OnSwipe-enabled sites over the rampant oh-you’re-on-an-iphone-let-me-redirect-you-to-the-front-page-of-our-“mobile”-site-and-thus-lose-your-link-and-force-you-to-GUESS-which-article-you-were-aiming-at.

    Now that’s an infuriating bit of “mobile optimization” that needs to die in a fire. Messily.

  3. @JasonLBaptiste (can’t reply any deeper, so going here)

    “When reading a site that uses us, hit the opt-out button, that’s why it’s there”

    The line between opt-in and opt-out is the key battlefront between users and those who seek to monetize them.

    You complain that my comments are mean-spirited but, by deciding to impose your business model upon others, by forcing millions of people to waste time every day looking for the links that will give them the sites they want, you have put yourself in the same category as spammers and the normal rules of discourse no longer apply.

    You point to your lack of financial benefit as a defence, but that just puts you in the same category as unsuccessful spammers.

    You say claim that Onswipe is a way to prevent the trend towards apps from killing the Web … but your way of doing this is to take the best browsing device I have ever used and force it to make a substantial portion of the Web look like … an app.

    You say that the data shows that Onswipe increases page views – okay, I don’t have that data but I accept your word, I still say that it should be opt-in, for both both visitors and site owners.

    Doug Stewart’s point, that Onswipe is not as bad as some approaches to mobile, is also valid.

    I also accept your point that I cannot know what you believe, I cannot know for sure that the technical problem I pointed out is deliberate but, look, if it is not, well, after remaining unchanged for almost a year on one of the biggest stages that the Web can provide, that is a serious failure to execute.

    Anyway, I’m sure you’re a nice chap in person, but the principle of allowing people to opt-in rather than forcing them to opt out is important and it is vital that we defend it. I wish you well on a personal level but I want the Web back.

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