Have you ever gone to a website using anything other than your desktop or laptop (smartphone, tablet, etc.) and had a bit of a struggle enjoying the site, mainly because everything couldn’t fit inside the browser window?
Fortunately most smartphones and tablets make it easier to see these sites by being able to zoom in or out, but even still, you end up missing something and being unable to enjoy the entire site.
Quite frankly, at this point in time, I’m not really sure why this is happening. Pretty much all smartphone users and tablet users have at some point used their device to try to peruse the Internet—so why aren’t more designers creating responsive web designs? Isn’t it about time?
It is time
Responsiveness in a website design is nothing more than the ability for the design to adjust to different browser/window sizes. Most times when people think about it, they automatically think about mobile phones but it’s for the person who browses the internet using their mobile device as well as the person that uses their desktop at a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 or higher.
Really, though, responsive design has come about thanks to the person that uses their mobile phone and their tablet to browse the Internet. Something has to give with all the pinching and phone flipping in order to have an easier user experience. Responsive design takes all these things into account as well as the future of web site browsing: What devices will be invented next? What’s the rising percentage of people who actually browse on their smaller devices? Will responsive design ever become the norm? These are all questions worth asking and preparing for.
Another great thing about responsive design is it makes it unnecessary to create a website specifically for different mobile devices. Doing so can be confusing, bulky, costly, and a waste of time if you can put together an effective responsive website. If you are a web designer or even just a business owner, learning how to create responsive sites or switching to responsive sites can make a huge difference in months and even years to come. You want to be a step ahead, right?
15 free responsive themes
Sometimes it can be tough to keep with the ever advancing technology that makes responsiveness happen. I know for a stone cold designer like myself, code just doesn’t come to me as quickly and sometimes I need a bit of help. And help can either come in the form of a solid tutorial or someone or something getting the process started.
Below, we’ve found some of the best responsive WordPress themes to get you aligned with the times. Most of these are very minimalistic but keep in mind, many of these themes are to be used as a bare bones structure from which to build your site design. Many are fairly customizable (or you can get into the CSS to make your changes) and work more like templates than finished themes. Pick your favorite and ride off into the wonderful land of responsiveness.
*Developer descriptions are italicized.
Ari WordPress Theme
“Ari is a free WordPress theme with a clean, minimalistic design. The theme has a responsive layout that is optimized for different browser sizes and mobile devices (tablet, PC’s or modern smartphones). Ari is a simple to use, flexible blog theme best suited for small blogs or personal blogging. You can easily change the background, text and link colors in the theme option page. In the theme options, you can also change the logo by using your own logo image. With Ari you can start blogging without having to set up a lot of things and your readers can enjoy reading your blog posts from their tablets, PC, or smartphone.”
“BonPress is the perfect personal blog theme. Packed with Post Formats (audio, video) feature and multiple Custom Widgets, like Twitter and Flickr, it will offer you a unique experience from blogging.”
“Business lite 3 from CyberChimps WordPress Themes is a Free Responsive Business WordPress Theme perfect for any business on any device (which magically adjusts to mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and Android). It gives your company the tools to turn WordPress into a modern Drag and Drop Content Management System (CMS).
Business lite offers exciting new Drag and Drop Page Elements including a Responsive Feature Slider, Widgetized boxes, and Callout section. All of these Elements can be used on a per-page basis using Drag and Drop Page Options which also include sidebar and layout options giving you the power to control the look and feel of every page.”
Grid Theme Responsive
“Grid Theme Responsive is a WordPress Theme with mobile responsive design, featuring infinite scroll. Grid Theme is perfect for any creative to showcase their portfolio.”
Gridly Folio WordPress Theme
“A free minimal & responsive portfolio theme ideal for graphic designers or photographers.”
“Simple portfolio/photography WordPress theme with responsive layout for improved user experience on mobile devices. A parent theme, built on Hybrid Core – with nearly limitless possibilities for expansion due to the platform architecture and hooks for adding your own functionality.”
“iFeature 4 is a Responsive Drag & Drop Professional WordPress Theme by CyberChimps.com. It includes a Responsive Apple-like design (which magically adjusts to mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad), Responsive iFeature Slider, New Drag & Drop Header Elements, Page and Blog Elements, intuitive Theme Options, and is built with HTML5 and CSS3. iFeature 4 also includes custom logo support, social icons, a widgetized sidebar and footer, and custom typography options.”
Leon WordPress Theme
“Leon is my first fully responsive WordPress theme…Thanks to the awesome Skeleton framework . Apart from that the theme is WordPress 3 ready, and has custom menu feature, featured thumbnails, widgetized sidebar and footer, theme option page etc.”
“Mixfolio is a responsive, HTML5 portfolio theme for WordPress. Best of all, it’s free! Use it to build your portfolio or your online brand. Create Image, Gallery, Video or Standard posts using Mixfolio’ Post Formats feature.”
“A premium-quality, responsive magazine theme for WordPress. Oxygen is a highly extensible parent theme, built on the industry-recognized Hybrid Core framework – a great base for creating your own child themes.”
“Respo is an amazing WordPress theme with clean, sleek and customizable design. The theme is suitable for personal blogs and/or online magazines. This is a responsive theme, able to adapt its layout to the screen size of your visitors (try resizing the screen and see for yourself). The sliders for this theme are responsive too, which means it works super sleek on mobile devices like iPad or iPhone.”
Responsive Wordpress Theme
“Free Responsive WordPress Theme for your business or personal site, the choice is yours.“
Responsive Twenty Ten
“Responsive Twenty Ten is a child theme of the default WordPress theme. Dan Gavin and Sara Cannon of Birmingham, AL decided to go on a quest to make a responsive WordPress theme. Lo and behold, the TwentyTen child they’ve been dreaming of was already started! So, they developed this theme based off of Todd Halfpenny’s version here. With the addition of some special touches such as flexible images, nice margins, and some mobile image rules.”
Skeleton WordPress Theme
“This WordPress theme is a Responsive Web Design (RWD) based on the Skeleton boilerplate. This theme is bbPress2 ready, and uses the Options Framework allowing you customize the basic design from the admin console.”
“Yoko is a modern and flexible WordPress theme. With the responsive layout based on CSS3 media queries, the theme adjusts to different screen sizes. The design is optimized for big desktop screens, tablets and small smartphone screens. To make your blog more individual, you can use the new post formats (like gallery, aside or quote), choose your own logo and header image, customize the background and link color.”
Get into responsiveness. There are many apps and plugins out there that will take your WordPress site and create a mobile version or even an app version of your website but none of that even matters if someone can’t access your site from their phone. Having your own app does sound fascinating and if it’s necessary, than do it. But why spend extra money doing that when all you have to do is take a few steps in creating a site that is adaptable in many circumstances?
While many believe this is just another trend, there are many others who believe this will be around for a long time. With the surge in mobile and smaller devices, it’s hard to see how learning this technique can be harmful. Besides, it’s pretty fun to see elements increase and decrease when playing with your browser window.