Responsive Design: Does Your WordPress Site Really Need It?

Responsive Design: Does Your WordPress Site Really Need It?

Responsive Design - A theme that adapts to all devices

Responsive design in WordPress themes is becoming more and more popular these days with the proliferation of mobile devices. Theme designers and web developers alike are getting on the band-wagon and responding (no pun intended) to the demand. As a result, many popular premium theme sellers are increasing their selection of responsive designs. More and more freebies are also offering responsive design.

But, there is question that needs to be answered before you consider installing and using a responsive theme on your WordPress site or blog:

Do you really need a responsive design theme?

More to the point: will a responsive theme, along with its advantages and disadvantages, enhance your users’ experience, entice them to participate in your community, or get you more sign-ups or conversions? Then again, as an alternative to a responsive theme, you may want to consider mobile app(s) for your site instead.

How to determine what’s best for you? Consider the following basic questions:

  • What is your niche market?
  • Who is your target audience?

If you’re a local contractor, and your niche market is domestic landscaping services, you likely don’t need either a responsive theme or a mobile app. Your consumer base will most likely be searching for you from their home computer. That could be their desktop, a laptop or a tablet device. Simply limiting your site’s width to a maximum of 960 pixels should therefore ensure that your content displays just fine for that niche market.

However, if you’re running a community site for a kid’s soccer league, you’re probably targeting the parents. I would imagine they would want to be able to easily share photos of their kid’s exploits on the field. Those pictures will more than likely be taken with their hand-held devices. So, in this scenario, a neat custom-made app allowing the parents to instantly upload and comment on photos would perhaps be a more appropriate option for you.

Another scenario comes to mind where both a responsive theme and mobile apps would seem appropriate: a music festival and/or concert site. Users could surf your site from home, work, the café, a plane or a train to find activities in their area. A responsive theme for tablets and Android devices, and neat apps for geo-location and seat reservation features would be a definite plus.

So, before you too simply jump on the responsive design band-wagon just because “everybody” is doing it, pause and consider your niche market and target audience.

  • Will your choice help make your users’ experience more enjoyable?
  • Will it make using your site’s features easier or more practical?
  • Will it encourage users to come back and use your site again?

To help get you going once you’ve made your decision, here’s a handy list of theme and app providers. If you know of other providers, or want to share some insight into responsive design themes and/or mobile apps, please, get into the discussion below.

Free responsive themes

Here are a couple of great lists for free WordPress themes with responsive designs:
https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/16-beautiful-and-free-responsive-wordpress-themes/
http://www.splashnology.com/article/20-free-responsive-wordpress-themes/3973/
Plus a couple more from the WordPress repo:
Responsive
Response

Mobile app creators

Native Apps Builder
ShoutEm API
Go ahead and search Google for more. There’s a whole bunch of them out there!

Photo credit: Babushka