What is a Responsive Theme in WordPress?

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What is a WordPress responsive theme, and why should you care? Well, site owners who have non-responsive websites lose web traffic, reputation, and business. A responsive template “responds” to different devices to accommodate the diverse range of screen sizes. Non-responsive themes can’t do this, so viewers must scroll from left to right to view the content.

How Responsive Themes Work in WordPress

Responsive web design or RWD works by shrinking web pages in a way that’s proportionate. That doesn’t mean everything minimises so that it’s impossible to see. Instead, RWD works by rearranging elements to make the page presentable in smaller screens. Text and image icons may become image-only to save space. Other, less critical elements are hidden from view.

Also, page text moves onto a new line when if it reaches the side of the screen. With non-responsive themes, the text keeps going, making the site almost impossible to navigate.  

Before Responsive Themes

Websites built the old way were hard work and didn’t always offer a good user experience. Designers and developers used to create different versions of the same site. There was one for desktops and another for mobiles. Even worse was that mobile operating systems, namely, Android and iPhone, had to have separate layouts.

Fortunately, multiple versions are no longer necessary. Now, all the best CMS and block editor site builders use fully responsive themes by default. They’re ready to go live with minimal effort and optimised for the search engines pretty much out of the box.

Responsive theme examples

Below are screenshots of how a responsive WordPress theme adjusts for different devices.

22” Desktop (1680 x 1050)

Apple iPad Mini (768 x 1024)

Nexus 6 smartphone (411 x 731)

The website adjusts so that it remains readable and easy to navigate whatever the screen size. The more page elements there are, the more the theme responds to maintain perspective. No WordPress responsive designs need to add a horizontal scrollbar.

Mobile Marketing Themes

More internet users access the web today on mobile devices than desktop computers. Few mobile users have the time or patience to view non-responsive sites on smaller screens. Indeed, it’s unlikely that anyone would buy a product or service from a non-responsive website. They’re too hard on the eyes, awkward to navigate, and they do nothing to instil trust.

Here are a few quick stats to back up the importance of mobile-friendly WordPress themes:

The numbers speak for themselves, and they continue to climb.

Check Your Stats

Website stats keep you updated on a whole variety of visitor metrics and other useful data. Programs like MonsterInsights is a WordPress Dashboard plugin for Google Analytics. It gives you a handy device breakdown so you can see what hardware your visitors use. Whatever the demographic, mobile devices should dominate now, followed by desktop, then tablets.

Closing Comments

If you search for responsive themes in the WordPress repository, it will probably show Responsive By CyberChimps. That’s a popular template, but there are thousands of others. It’s better to search by category or by name. All themes will state in the opening description if it’s responsive. Most of them are today—both free and paid—but always check just in case.

Here’s an example of a responsive photography theme, as seen in its description.

If you run a WP blog or website—and it’s non-responsive—you now know what to do.

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