Any time you see a WordPress web page that loads and navigates seamlessly (or as near to seamlessly as possible) across a range of different devices, know that all of that was made possible by good responsive web design. As more and more people utilize their mobile device(s) to access and surf the internet, having a website that is easy to navigate across operating systems and screen sizes will make or break your digital success.
Responsive web design is not some flavor-of-the-week web design trend, but a necessity for succeeding in the new mobile digital economy paradigm. By the year 2021, 50 percent of all global devices and connections will be smartphones and tablets, and more than half of all internet traffic is already mobile traffic. If you want to make sure your WordPress site is accessible and user-friendly across devices, below are the dos and don’ts of responsive web design.
The Dos of Responsive Web Design
1. Do understand how your site visitors use their mobile devices
If you are optimizing your WordPress web page for mobile users, you are going to want to use some analytics software (free or purchased) in order to determine how, and ultimately why visitors do certain things on your page. “Which individual pages and elements do they engage with the most” is the million dollar question, because it lets you know which pages and elements you want to have maximum exposure and prominence on your mobile-optimized page.
2. Do have your layout planned
WordPress can be overwhelming, simply because the platform makes users spoiled for choice. There is so much you can do with WordPress that it can be easy to approach your web design without a solid plan, and end up easily distracted by this or that feature, plugin etc. Most good coders understand that it is helpful to have a wireframe in place before creating the visual design of your WordPress page, and then, if you so wish, moving onto the coding part.
3. Do optimize your plugins
If you have been using WordPress for a while, you definitely don’t need to be told about the power of WordPress plugins. Even people with stellar HTML skills rely on at least a few plugins to make their site function smoother and improve both back and front-end processes.
If you are optimizing a responsive website, things like the “WP Touch” plugin (which helps your websites seamlessly change themes so that they are more mobile friendly), and the “AMP for WordPress” plugin (which allows your page to quickly replace non-responsive themes with one that work better on mobile) are two of the easiest to use, and the most comprehensive in terms of what they offer.
The Don’ts of Responsive Web Design
1. Don’t fail to test third-party code
2. Don’t skimp on negative space
Optimizing your WordPress site for mobile means ensuring that you have enough negative space for all of your elements to stand out. Too much clutter in too little space is an eye-sore and difficult to navigate on small mobile screens. Negative space also helps provide a feeling of calm and tranquility to users, whereas an over-abundance of icons on a small smartphone screen is chaotic and overwhelming.
3. Don’t hide your content
Some WordPress designers attempt to hide certain content while designing a mobile layout because they think it functions as a viable shortcut. This is just a band-aid solution, however, because the content is going to load regardless of whether mobile users see it or not. The bottom line is that the load time is going to be the same either way, so it makes more sense to aim for clean, responsive layout from the beginning.
The future – at least for now – is mobile, and individuals who fail to realize this risk losing out on the largest audience on the internet. Whether you are in the process of building your WordPress web page, are planning it out, or it is already up and running, keep the above Do’s and Don’ts of responsive web design in mind and ensure that viewers across platforms have an enjoyable site experience.