When you create a new blog, your blog has to be unique so that it does not get lost in the Blogosphere. It has to be remembered by your readers and it has to be visible not only on your computer but also on the various devices including mobile. To achieve that, the first step is to customize your blog with a free or premium WordPress responsive theme. Then you can tweak it to infuse it with your personality and your voice.
A theme is the backbone of your blog. When you are setting up a blog it is important that you select a theme that is compatible with the mission of your blog. For example, if your blog’s main objective is to sell merchandise, it is important that look over some WordPress ecommerce themes to choose from.
What To Look For In A WordPress Theme
- The theme has to be responsive
- It has to be compatible with your blog’s goals
- It has to be customizable – it has to offer options such as color change, layout (ability to have an option to show or not to show sidebars), option to insert a header or a logo, change font styles and sizes, well developed widget area and so on.
- It has to be light (as in Megabytes)
- It has to fit your budget (free or premium)
In this article I will only concentrate on responsive WordPress themes and I’ll show you how to determine if your current theme is responsive. As well, I will point you to the sources of free and premium responsive themes. Also the advantages and disadvantages of free and premium themes will be discussed.
What Is A WordPress Responsive Theme?
The second question I want to answer, why do you need a responsive theme?
A WordPress responsive theme is developed on a flexible foundation with a fluid grid system. As a result, the theme adapts to the size of any device it is viewed on, including mobile. What that means is that your blog will automatically shrink itself to accommodate the device it is displayed on. I’ll show you an example below.
Responsive webdesign has been gathering momentum to keep up with the increasing demand for responsive themes and websites. As the use of small screen devices has becoming more and more popular a non responsive blog will become obsolete.
Whether you are a new blogger or you have blogged for some time, you need to make sure that your blog’s theme is responsive.
How To Check If Your Blog Is Using A Responsive WordPress Theme
It can be easily determined if your blog is responsive straight from your computer. Just drag the right hand side of your browser to the left. As the view of your blog is shrinking, if your site is responsive, you will still be able to read the full text and generally see the images. If your blog is non responsive, as it shrinks you will only be able to see partial text (the left side of it).
Image 1. WordPress Responsive Theme Viewed On PC
Image 2. Responsive WordPress Theme On Mobile
As you can see from the images above, as the responsive WordPress theme “shrinks” all of the article is “readable”. Also note that even the image of the advertisement (which I embedded in the framework of the theme) also shrinks it’s size to accommodate the small viewing window.
Let’s take a look at a non responsive WordPress theme. The images below represent an example of a non responsive WordPress theme
Image 3. Non Responsive WordPress Theme On PC
Image 4. Non Responsive WordPress Theme On Mobile
Notice that as the website “shrunk” the viewing screen only displays a partial view of the post.
The second important consideration is whether you will choose a free or premium WordPress responsive theme.
Free Responsive WordPress Themes
One place to look at for free themes is wordpress.org which offers thousands of free themes. Once there, click on Themes and that will bring you to a search page. In the search window input “responsive” and you will get a list of free WordPress responsive themes.
Once you have a list of the themes check them over, find out what options are offered and see how support handles issues with the theme. All this can be found out once you click on the responsive theme of your choice.
Advantages and Disadvantages Of Free WordPress Responsive Themes
- Price – they are free
- May include inefficient coding may slow down your site considerably
- May not be search engine optimized
- May not be compatible with all browsers
- Support may be lacking
- May not be updated regularly to keep up with WordPress changes and new trends
- Sometimes they are a ploy to get you to buy a premium theme and if you do upgrade you may lose all options you set out on your free theme (a good example of this issue is the “Responsive Theme” by cyberchimp – read the forum if you are interested, I was quite disappointed by the responses of the developer)
Premium Responsive WordPress Themes
I am a proponent of premium themes. I suggest that unless you are very sure of the developer of a free theme (you really have to do your due diligence) before you start using. If the purpose of your blogging is long term online business go with a premium theme from an established theme development company. The initial investment will really pay off and it will save you a lot of headaches down the line.
There are many companies that offer premium themes, but just like when you are searching for free themes you have to do your own due diligence. Once you are satisfied with the reputation of the developer choose a theme that is compatible with the mission of your blog.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Premium WordPress Themes
- Frequently updated to accommodate WordPress changes and new trends
- Great support
- Search engine optimized
- Premium features
- Price – may range anywhere from $30.00 to over $100.00
- Some excellent premium themes are quite technically challenging
In this article I will suggest 3 developers based on my experience and on the experience of other successful bloggers.
1. Woothemes (Woo themes) – Blogging Spree uses Canvas responsive WordPress theme by this company because the theme is easy to use and is very versatile. They also offer other responsive themes geared towards other business types. I primarily use Canvas theme because the theme was not technically challenging to set up and because the support is first class. As well, I have tried different premium themes that were not technically challenging (not mentioned here) but over time I found that Canvas offers the best features and options for my blog.
2. Thesis by DIYthemes – much loved theme by thousands of bloggers. I would love to use Thesis but unfortunately to set it up requires fairly substantial technical knowledge and that is way above the level of my techie comfort. If you don’t mind some technical challenges or if you can hire someone to set it up for you, this theme is really one of the best.
3. Studio Press – Offers great themes on the Genesis Framework. This is another often used and loved theme/framework company. I have not experimented with this one, because when I was ready to purchase they did not have a theme compatible with my blog’s objectives.
There are other great companies that offer premium responsive WordPress themes. I have not explored them all. However, when I was searching for a theme I contacted a number of these businesses and some never even answered my support question.
When you are considering a company, write them and ask them a few questions. See how fast you will receive an answer and also watch for the tone of the answer. Remember, when you purchase a theme you are likely going to use it for a long time. Inevitably you will encounter some glitches you may not know how to solve yourself. For that reason, the support must be top notch!
To conclude, I hope this article gave you some food for thought with respect to using a WordPress responsive theme on your blog. You really have to use one if you don’t want your blog to become obsolete in this gadget loving world. As well if you do not use a responsive WordPress theme you are missing out on thousands of potential visitors. I put together a small “gallery” of responsive WordPress themes used by other bloggers (click here to read…)
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