WordPress Begins Moving
Into The Mobile Era!
When the WordPress TwentyEleven theme launched, love it or hate it, it brought with it a wide range of proof-of-concept features under the hood that you likely never realized!
One of those was “mobile responsiveness“… which is a unique ability of the theme to look at the device a visitor is using and to respond to that information and dynamically adjust it’s display format.
In English? That means regardless of how your visitor arrives… even if its via iPad… your site always displays nicely with no need for additional plugins, secondary themes, services and other nonsense.
We all know that mobile is very important in web design now, and adapting a site for mobile compatibility is important… but now Google has upped the game and announced that this will also affect advertising rates through Google Adwords (excerpt below).
(It’s important to understand that by indicating they can “see” this much of your site, that this is certain to spill over into other SEO impacts.)
In September, we announced that mobile site optimization would soon become a new factor in ads quality for all campaigns running mobile search traffic.
Ads that have mobile optimized landing pages will tend to perform better in AdWords — they will generally drive more mobile traffic at a lower cost.
The AdWords system will automatically visit your landing page, and evaluate your site as viewed by smartphones. However, if you already have a mobile site, we recommend confirming with your webmaster that you’ve configured your server to show the mobile-optimized site when the AdWords mobile User-Agent is detected.
So suddenly, this whole mobile thing is getting a LOT more attention from Google.. and that means it’s time it gets attention from us!
Currently… not so fun….
As I mentioned in my post on WordPress mobile compatibility, the “current state of affairs” involves using either a service or plugin that ignores the default theme and rebuilds the content into a format that is more device specific.
I’ve never liked this because I put so much time into my theme only to have it ignored at the mobile level. Making matters worst is that getting brand customization on these mobile plugin/themes almost always involves a lot of code level work (even more than I’m willing to do.) This is both a loss of leverage and a loss of branding congruence.
Welcome Mobile Responsive Themes To the Stage!
TwentyEleven was the first theme to introduce many of us to the amazing potential to be mobile-aware without the usual drawbacks. This is not to say that TwentyEleven was perfect in all regards but that it represented a landmark in WordPress awareness of where we could go next.
In this picture you see the TwentyEleven displaying nicely on numerous smart devices with no assistance from a plugin and while maintaining the natural feel of the theme. Score!
So What’s Next?
Since the launch of TwentyEleven, we’ve seen a lot more focus on the idea of incorporating mobile responsiveness into some of the best themes in the industry.
TwentyEleven is actually not the only free theme to begin incorporating this ability and you can find it in themes such as Brunelleschi.
But things really get exciting when you see the big theme shops begin to give it serious attention.
Recently, WooThemes sent out a survey that included a question about mobile responsiveness…..
ElegantThemes has a a couple themes that is specifically designed for this sort of feature…
Currently, they already offer a mobile responsive child theme for Genesis, called Driskill which is a very clean high-whitespace design.
More importantly though, is that the framework theme, Genesis, which is currently in version 1.7.1 is rumored being reworked to include mobile responsiveness at it’s core for the upcoming v1.8. That will allow all of the child themes to be adapted to benefit from this power!
StudioPress’ Genesis, being one of the two leading themes (or more correctly theme frameworks aka “parent themes”) on the market, adding this functionality will have far reaching impacts on the WordPress community.
Will Thesis incorporate this important functionality into version 2.0? It’s really hard to say as Thesis (which I like) has been still in the water for several months now as they prepare for a new version as well and anything would be pure speculation.
If you’re skilled with web design, or have a designer helping with your development, the new “Basic” responsive theme by Themify makes a great starting point for a new theme for your site and brings that kind of power under the hood while being ready for customization!
Mobile responsiveness is a strong reason (among many other great reasons) to chose a high quality, being-actively-developed, premium theme from a dependable, reliable theme shop.
I’m really excited about themes moving this direction and the ability to get away from bulky clunky mobile plugins. Having the site be “smart” enough to acknowledge the device and display in the correct layout is the kind of ease of use we all want.
Keep an eye on themes with this functionality. This is going to be a key player going forward… Google agrees!
Do you browse the web from any mobile device or tablet device? What is your preferred layout? Do you currently utilize mobile compatibility plugin to make your site friendly to those on older mobile devices?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Taking the Headaches Out of Internet Marketing
PS: Generally I caution people to be hyper-careful about themes that are not from the repository or from well known theme shops. However, I’ve dealt with Themify myself and feel comfortable recommending their themes (free and paid). Always be very careful about random themes from the internet though as the rate of malware in them is increasing.