Nowadays, most people use smart devices for quick fact-checking, grocery shopping, ordering clothes, and everything else in between. So, if you’re thinking about starting a blog or eStore your site must be responsive.
What most newcomers to the WordPress community fail to realize is the importance of mobile compatibility in responsive themes, which is why their websites underperform on Smart devices.
The majority of Earth’s population access websites from a Smartphone, but will likely leave if a page takes too long to load or if they have to zoom in endlessly to be able to see the homepage menus.
Responsive themes fix all of these issues, but the importance of mobile compatibility in responsive themes doesn’t end with fast page load times and automatic content resizing. So, let’s dive deeper.
Why Do Cross-Device Compatibility Issues Occur?
You must look at two key factors to understand why mobile compatibility is so important for a responsive theme. The site’s appearance depends on the display shape and the size of different elements.
Desktop computers have horizontally oriented rectangular displays, and themes optimized for desktops adjust to that shape. The so-called landscape format leaves plenty of space to arrange different page elements intuitively so that a website visitor can easily find them.
But what happens when you attempt to open a page optimized for display in the landscape format on a mobile device? As you already know, Smartphones have vertically oriented rectangular displays or portrait displays.
Unless it is specifically told to do so, a device won’t change a page’s orientation. The result is that a visitor can only see a portion of a website’s page and must scroll left or right to see the rest.
This creates a poor user experience, which is why a visitor is likely to bounce off a page that isn’t optimized for display on mobile devices. A responsive theme’s mobile compatibility ensures all website’s pages are automatically converted from landscape to portrait mode when accessed from a Smartphone.
The size of a display plays an important role during the content formatting process. A desktop display is much larger than a Smartphone display. So, if a page is only optimized for desktops its elements will be too small for use on mobile devices.
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Font size is the perfect example. Using a small font size is perfectly fine on desktop displays because a website visitor can easily read the text on a relatively large screen.
However, when that same font size is displayed on a version of a website that was compressed to fit a Smartphone’s portrait screen the text becomes too small to read.
A responsive theme adjusts the size of different website elements to the screen size automatically and eliminates the need to handle this issue manually. Consequently, website visitors won’t have to zoom in on a page to reach its navigation menu or have difficulties tapping on buttons.
The Differences between Mobile-Friendly and Mobile Responsive Website Themes
It’s necessary to address nuanced or not-so-nuanced differences between mobile responsive and mobile-friendly themes.
These terms are often used interchangeably, which from a strictly technical standpoint is a mistake.
- Mobile-friendly sites – The term refers to websites that are optimized to display the content in the same way across all devices. In practice, this means that a page will shrink to fit a mobile device’s screen which makes navigating a website or tapping on buttons difficult.
- Mobile responsive sites – Websites that use mobile responsive themes adjust the page’s format to the device’s screen. So, instead of retaining the same text and element size mobile responsive themes enlarge them to ensure a user can easily read the text or open a menu.
This is where the term mobile-first theme comes into the mix. Mobile-first themes are primarily designed for use on Smartphones, but they can adjust the content to desktop screens when a website is accessed from a computer.
Key Features a Good Mobile Responsive Theme Must Have
There’s no need to cover all the features that make a WordPress theme responsive here. Instead, let’s focus on those that make a theme suitable for use on mobile devices. You can take a look at our guide to the key features of responsive WordPress themes for a more comprehensive view of the topic.
Here are some of the features that help a WordPress theme perform better on mobile devices.
Themes with messy code often contain bugs that aren’t easy to fix or unnecessary features. Poorly structured code makes maintaining a theme and introducing new features more difficult.
It also decreases a site’s speed which can be problematic on mobile devices that don’t have a lot of computational power. Although removing unnecessary code is possible, opting for a theme that already has clean code is a more convenient solution.
Fast Page Load Times
Most people, myself included, don’t like to wait. So, visitors are likely to bounce if they have to wait more than a few seconds to view a page. Responsive themes usually have fast load times, but failing to activate the mobile caching or remove render-blocking resources can slow them down.
It’s highly advisable to test a theme’s mobile page speed before installing it on your website with Google PageSpeed Insight or a similar tool that can determine how well it performs on mobile devices.
Automatic View Mode Adjustments
The ultimate goal of using a responsive theme with powerful mobile features is to provide each visitor with high-quality UX. Even though most mobile users browse the Internet in portrait view mode, a certain percentage of your website visitors will want to access it in landscape mode.
Hence, the theme you chose should switch between these two modes automatically whenever a user changes the position in which they’re holding their Smartphone.
Content and Element Resizing
Desktop screens are much larger than the screens on smart devices. Consequently, the size of navigation menus, forms, buttons, and text is considerably smaller when a visitor accesses a website from a computer.
A responsive theme should change the size of each element to the device’s screen so that a user can easily read the text, log in to their account or tap on the CTA button. It’s worth adding that most responsive themes do an excellent job of adjusting the element and content size to different smart devices.
The Most Popular Responsive Themes with Mobile Compatibility
The sheer volume of responsive themes that perform admirably on Smartphones is often the biggest hurdle anyone who wants to launch a website has to overcome.
So, to save you some time, we’ll briefly look at some of the most popular mobile-compatible WordPress themes. Please read our guide on how to choose the best responsive WP theme for your website if none of the options below meets your requirements:
- Astra – WordPress community loves the Astra theme because it offers endless customization options. Also, the theme is lightweight and fast which makes it ideal for use on mobile devices. Take a look at our Astra theme review for more information.
- Divi – Even though it isn’t a mobile-first theme, Divi is one of the best responsive themes on the market. Lightning-fast page load speeds, the Mobile Customizer tool, and powerful image optimization options are among the advantages of using the Divi theme. Check out our Divi review to learn more about this theme.
- OceanWP – The theme comes with three mobile menu styles and countless other features that enable you to design a fast and functional site that looks stunning on mobile devices. Take a peek at our OceanWP review if you’re curious about this awesome theme.
How to Maximize a Website’s Performance on Mobile Devices?
Installing a responsive theme is only the first step in the long process of optimizing a website for use on mobile devices. A site might still perform poorly on smartphones and tablets even if you have a responsive theme.
Here are some of the things you can do to avoid providing poor UX to your website’s visitors on smart devices.
Don’t Create a Complicated Navigation Structure
Keep things simple. Use a logical navigation structure to allow visitors to quickly find what they need. Having too many menus and submenus can confuse a user and the search engine causing high bounce rates and low SERP position.
Avoid High-resolution Media
Complex animations, large video files, or high amounts of photos can annihilate the benefits of using a responsive theme in a hurry. Remember mobile devices don’t have the same CPU power as computers which is why they need more time to process vast amounts of data.
Fortunately, all issues resulting from high-resolution media can be easily fixed by resizing files before uploading them and ensuring the Lazy Load feature is working properly.
Choose a Reliable Hosting Provider
Hosting affects much more than how well a website performs on mobile devices. Most importantly, hosting is a key factor that determines the site’s speed, so if the hosting provider you choose doesn’t provide sufficient bandwidth and RAM, your website’s performance on smart devices will suffer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are all WordPress Themes Responsive?
The number of responsive themes is steadily increasing, but at the moment not all WordPress themes are responsive. However, all responsive themes adjust the site’s layout to smart devices.
What are the Core Components of Responsive Website Design?
Responsive themes have interactive interfaces, ensure all visual elements load quickly and allow designers to create effective navigation menus that look good on small screens.
How Long Does a Responsive Theme Need to Load on a Mobile Device?
Most responsive themes need less than a second to fully load on a mobile device, but the quality of the user’s internet connection and other factors can affect their performance.
Final Thoughts – Does Switching to a Responsive WordPress Theme Pay Off?
The number of desktop-based searches is in decline, and currently, more than 50% of all page views come from mobile devices.
This trend is unlikely to reverse in the next few years because the latest statistics show that 6.8 billion people own smartphones. So, not having responsive design has become a luxury most websites cannot afford.
WordPress has a vast selection of themes that deliver a high-quality user experience across all devices and ensure visitors can easily read content, buy products or access their accounts.
Please go through our guide to the best free responsive WP themes for 2023 if you’re looking for a theme that will make your website shine on all devices.