Responsive Web Design for your WordPress Site – Pros and Cons

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You’ve probably been hearing a lot of buzz about responsive web design. Because of the rapid increase in the usage of mobile devices for web browsing, responsive web design has become the newest and most convenient way to make your website beautiful across any browser, whether it be on a 27 inch desktop, an iPhone, an iPad, or any of hundreds of other Android, Blackberry, or otherwise alternative viewing devices like smart TV’s and game consuls.

Think of all those pages you see on your phone that ask you “would you rather see the full desktop website. Responsive web design is intended to streamline the design process. As opposed to building a completely separate website that will appear depending on whichever device it is being viewed at, responsive web design in WordPress uses only one theme, and this theme “responds” to absolutely any screen resolution, theoretically making it look good for anyone. It will use the same images, content, and navigation that you already have in place, but will look differently depending on the size of the browser in use.

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of using a Responsive theme in your WordPress design?

What you will get:

Your website, as mentioned before, should look great on absolutely any viewing device.

You won’t need to create completely different content or strategy for a mobile website.

You will, as always with WordPress, be able to manage all content yourself from the WordPress Admin, and on top of that – won’t need to worry about creating or managing multiple sets of content, images, and media.

Having your mobile and desktop sites all under a single URL with the same content will have a positive impact on SEO as opposed to separate URL’s with separate information.

Responsive design isn’t just for mobile devices. Remember that great responsive design is about screen size and not about devices. Your website will look great for the user on a huge desktop, or someone with one of those adorable little mini-laptops.

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Below is an example of a recent project we did for a Responsive Website – on the left is how the website appears in a browser window, and on the right is a screenshot from an iPhone. As you can see, the sidebar has moved down below the content and has been reorganized to be easy to read and navigate on a smaller screen.

Possible Cons that you should consider:

Development can be an exponentially longer process if you desire a completely custom responsive website. Because the website must expand and contract in the best way possible, your developer will have a lot of work to do – and this can have a big impact on your budget.

From a designer’s perspective, responsive design isn’t easy, and can also be out of the comfort zone for a designer who hasn’t completely come around to the idea of responsive web design. If you want your website to be responsive, it is imperative that you communicate with your designer about what exactly they are comfortable doing and how much extra time it will take for them to be working on a responsive site. A designer who relies too heavily on hiding information on a mobile device will also cause users to load information that they will never see – which could slow down your site’s performance.

One of the great things about WordPress is the seemingly unlimited number of Plugins designed to make your site more beautiful and to work better. When you’re creating a responsive website – you need to consider the possibility that some of these plugins might not cooperate with the intent of your responsive theme, which could limit you.

Possibly the biggest debate currently raging in terms of responsive design is how to control the resizing of images. An image that is 1200 pixels wide might look amazing on a 27″ desktop, but to scale this image down for a 640px wide mobile device can really waste bandwidth and cause users to load unnecessarily large images and other media when they won’t be seeing them at their full size.

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