To reach the most users with your WordPress website, you should use a responsive design. According to Search Engine Land, 57 percent of internet traffic originates from mobile devices. But not all websites are accessible on a mobile device. Some contain serious usability problems for smartphone and tablet visitors, resulting in fewer returning visitors and lower organic rankings for mobile search results. You can avoid these problems, however, by making your WordPress website more responsive.
Responsive websites are designed with HTML and CSS that automatically adjusts the layout and its elements depending on the device on which it’s viewed. Desktop users see a desktop-optimized layout when visiting a responsive website whereas smartphone and tablet users see a mobile-optimized layout. With a responsive design, your WordPress website will reach users of all devices rather than only desktop users.
Before giving your website’s design a mobile-friendly overhaul, you should check to see if it’s already responsive. You can do this by visiting your website on both a desktop computer and mobile device. Alternatively, you can run your site through a mobile-friendly checker like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test or Responsive Design Checker.
The easiest way to make a WordPress website responsive is to download a responsive theme. The WordPress framework supports interchangeable design templates, known as themes. They allow you to easily change your website’s design without changing its code. Just download a theme, either from the official WordPress theme repository or a third-party website, and install it from your site’s admin dashboard. When choosing a theme, though, make sure it’s responsive. WordPress offers more than 2,000 free responsive themes, all of which are mobile friendly.
Even if your website’s existing theme isn’t responsive, you might be able to modify it so that it is responsive. Although it requires editing HTML and CSS, the process is relatively simple. To make your theme responsive, open and edit all files to replace fixed units of measurements with proportion units of measurement. You can access your theme’s files from the admin dashboard or by connecting to your site’s server via a file transfer protocol (FTP) program. When editing your theme’s files, look for pixel-based measurements and change them to percentages. This is the basis on which responsive websites work: they contain proportion measurements, such as percentage, that responds intuitively to the visitor’s device. If a container on your site’s homepage has a width of 1,000 pixels, for example, change it to a width of 100 percent with a maximum width of 1,000 pixels. If a user’s device is smaller than 1,000 pixels wide, your site will still display a full width because the width is set to 100 percent.
Using the wrong plugins on your website may break the theme’s responsiveness. To preserve your site’s mobile compatibility, only use responsive plugins like Smart Slider 3. Developed by Nextend, it allows you to easily create responsive sliders for your website. Smart Slider 3 features a variety of customizable templates. Within these templates, you can change everything from the text and images to color and resolution.
Because they are accessed by mobile users, responsive websites should load quickly. Smartphone and tablet users often connect to the internet using mobile broadband, which has slower speeds and lower data caps than conventional landline broadband. If your otherwise responsive WordPress website is too slow, these visitors may struggle to use it. To optimize your WordPress site’s speed, install a caching plugin. These plugins force visitors to save your website’s files locally on their computer so that when they return, they aren’t forced to re-download it. Another way to improve your site’s speed is to resize its images. Large, high-resolution images consume significant bandwidth for visitors, so crop and shrink your site’s images.
Finally, add your WordPress website to Google Search Console. In 2015, Google began notifying webmasters about their site’s mobile compatibility issues. If the developer fails to update your site’s theme, causing its responsive functionality to break, Google will notify you in your Search Console account. Most importantly, you can use the Search Console to track your site’s rankings in Google’s search index. Creating a responsive WordPress website is essential to your online success. It allows all users to access your site, meaning it will attract more traffic. And with more traffic, your website will generate more sales or conversions.
George Woodard is a WordPress Web Developer and Digital Marketing Specialist with eLsqrd Media Group. He aspires to help businesses grow their brand online!