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I decided to take the plunge the other day and switch my WordPress theme for Sharp Biz Image to one that is designed to be mobile responsive. Before that, I was using a plugin called WP Touch. The plugin creates a generic theme for cell phone viewers. It worked great but you didn’t see any of my branding.
It’s always frustrating for me when I want to view a website that has not been made mobile responsive on my cell phone. The entire site shows up, but I have to tap the screen of my phone over and over to get the words to be readable. I have an Android and have been kicking myself since I bought it for not getting an IPhone. Oh well.
StudioPress, my favorite WordPress theme company, has recently announced several new themes that are designed to be mobile responsive. The one I just installed is called Focus 2.0. I love how clean and easy it is to read. When I checked it out on my cell I was able to navigate without effort.
I’m also working on another personal site, that has not launched yet, using another new theme called Balance. One of its features is a nifty opt in box widget for readers to sign up and receive post updates via email using Feedburner. I decided to integrate my aweber email marketing account instead. I was able to make it work and it looks just as cool.
The simple and clean design of the new StudioPress themes are part of what makes them mobile responsive. The navigation and how files are organized is another element as well. Let’s face it, nowadays, people are starting to read blog articles on their mobile devices. Even though flashy galleries and fancy widgets are fun to look at on a computer screen, they are usually a mess on a cell phone.
Making the decision to have a mobile responsive site depends on your audience, but remember. . . even Grandma has a cell phone.
One exciting new StudioPress theme that I’ve been working with recently is not in the regular stable of themes. It’s in the StudioPress Marketplace. The Marketplace features themes from independent designers using the Genesis Framework. The theme I’m working with is called Production and is designed to display multiple videos. My client is in the film business and the main focus of the site is to display his portfolio of movie and TV projects.
Previously I tried out a couple of highly rated video themes. One is Premiere by Woo Themes. However, my client wanted to self host his videos rather than use YouTube or Vimeo. Self hosting, in this instance, means the video files are either uploaded to the blog itself or to a storage site such as Amazon S3. Premiere is a very impressive theme for someone using Youtube or Vimeo, but requires tweaking for self hosted videos. One of the problems of using a video theme is getting the videos to play on IPhone, Ipad, Android and all the browsers. There isn’t usually a problem if you are dealing with YouTube or Vimeo videos. Most video hosting sites are constantly updated to work with emerging technology. A self hosted video normally requires a plugin called Flowplayer to play on WordPress. If Flowplayer is hard coded into the blog it may not get updated regularly. The beauty of plugins is that they are generally updated on a regular basis. (depending on the plugin developer) In the Production theme, Flowplayer is coded into a plugin called the Genesis Media Project and will be updated regularly.
There was another theme I had tried that was attractive but I wasn’t always able to communicate with the theme designer in a timely manner. He lives in Romania and I think he was getting tired of hearing from me. I had some problems getting the video to play properly on mobile devices. Plus, the theme had a function called Tim Thumb that has been causing security issues in WordPress. My hosting company, Bluehost, actually went in and did a patch when it saw the issue come up in one of the theme files. I love that Bluehost was keeping track of potential problems.
The Production theme was literally just announced (as of this writing) and there are still a couple of little bugs to work out such as getting the videos to resize to the proper aspect ratio, (critical for a film maker) however, working with a StudioPress designer assures me that issues will taken care of as soon as possible.
Suffice it to say I was elated when the new Production theme from StudioPress was announced because their themes are always reliable and support is outstanding.
Essentially, there are two ways to have a mobile responsive theme.
- If you love the theme you have now, use a plugin such as WP Touch. It works fine but keep in mind that extra plugins may weigh down your blog a bit.
- Use a theme that is designed to be mobile responsive. They are light, easy to read and effective. More and more theme companies are designing them.
I think the worst scenario is to have a static site with an aging interface that is not updated regularly. Who knows what kind of technology will be developed in the next month, let alone after a year or two. That’s why WordPress rocks in my humble opinion anyway!
PS. Some of the links listed in this post are affiliate links. That means I will receive a small commission if you decide you want to purchase a product you’ve clicked on. In all honesty and full disclosure I am a raving fan of these products and am only linking them because I believe they are valuable. I hope you will click on any link you may be interested in.