Mobile-friendly WordPress themes are those designed to look great and perform well on mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets. Search engines – Google in particular – place emphasis on ensuring your website is mobile-friendly. Without this aspect, you risk lower search engine rankings and higher bounce rates due to poor user experience.
In this post, we’ll show you how responsive themes solve the mobile-friendly problem and explain how these themes impact Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Then, we’ll introduce you to the budget required for mobile-friendly themes, and link you to a few of our favorites.
What Is a Responsive Theme?
The concepts behind responsive design were first introduced in 2002, but weren’t particularly notable until 2008. Ethan Marcotte officially coined the term ‘responsive web design’ in a May 2010 article in A List Apart.
Responsive web design essentially means to base your designs on a fluid grid, made possible using flexible images and media queries, therefore ensuring it looks size-appropriate no matter which screen it displays on. By 2013, responsive design has come to the fore, and it has since become an industry standard.
Responsive WordPress themes take these flexible-design standards and integrate them directly into the predesigned theme. In simpler terms, a responsive WordPress theme automatically adjusts your site’s design, whether it is viewed on a desktop or a small mobile phone.
Mobile-Friendly Themes for SEO
Whether a site is mobile-friendly or not impacts its ranking in Google, and can also indirectly impact ranking via traffic by offering a better user experience.
For example, mobile-friendly themes reduce the ‘pogo stick’ effect (i.e. high bounce rates from search results pages). This is influenced by the user’s immediate experience upon landing on your site. Mobile users attempting to browse a desktop-only design will likely become frustrated and leave immediately. If your site loads quickly and offers suitable presentation, you are more likely to keep visitors around to read your content.
How Much Do Mobile Friendly Themes Cost?
Mobile-friendly themes come in both free and premium flavors. Even WordPress’ default themes have been responsive since 2012, and are completely free. At the 2016 WordCamp Europe, Matt Mullenweg stated that all new themes added to the WordPress directory should be responsive. For advanced requirements, typical premium responsive themes cost between $45-$100 for an annual license with updates.
If you can find a suitable free theme that fits your exact needs, there is no need to look further. However, if you run a website with many complex needs, it may be necessary to invest in a premium version.
Premium Mobile-Friendly Themes
Premium themes typically offer more advanced customization options to create a stellar mobile viewing experience. If you choose to buy a premium theme, look for one that offers features such as:
- Content visibility depending on the device.
- Optimized mobile menus.
- Multiple layout options.
- Ability to manipulate how elements ‘shrink’ or ‘grow’ in the final layout.
- Control over loading scripts and images per device.
What makes a premium theme worth the price is being able to fully control these aspects, so be sure your chosen theme gives you the proper customization options!
Let’s take a look at a couple of stellar examples.
Pros: Divi is built by Elegant Themes, a standout company with a proven track record of serving the WordPress community.
Cons: Divi requires an annual membership fee for ongoing updates.
Divi is a forward-thinking, all-purpose theme that comes packed with a highly intuitive drag-and-drop visual editor. Better yet, you can easily customize how it behaves for different screen sizes directly from the WordPress dashboard.
Pros: Avada has been the top-selling WordPress theme on ThemeForest for a number of years, so stability, longevity, and user support are top-notch.
Cons: If you’re not used to multipurpose themes, Avada could be overwhelming at first.
Avada comes with quite a few choices of demo content and themes you can import to give you a head start on your design, all with one click. While it can seem complex at first, Avada has plenty of in-depth documentation to help guide you through your customization options.
Free Mobile-Friendly Themes
Free mobile-friendly themes are usually less feature-packed than their premium counterparts. In other words, while there may be a few customization options for colors or typography, you won’t be given a great amount of control over your theme. Even so, if you can find a solution that fits your requirements upfront, there’s no need for further customization at all!
To choose a quality example, first research the developer of your chosen theme to see whether they have a good track record with WordPress themes. A poorly coded theme will create a myriad of usability issues for you and your site visitors.
Let’s take a look at a few good examples of free themes.
Pros: Twenty Seventeen comes with WordPress by default, and is developed ‘in-house’.
Cons: Twenty Seventeen is quite bland compared to other themes.
If you’re not a blogger who needs a simple layout, you may want to consider another theme. That being said, Twenty Seventeen sports a solid design with options for widgets, navigation, social menus, colors, and more.
Pros: Bento is a multipurpose theme providing lots of typically premium features for free.
Cons: Bento doesn’t offer many in-depth tutorials or usage guides.
Bento is made by Satori Studio, a long-time Envato Elite author with a solid track record for making quality themes. To foot the bill for this theme, they offer upgrades for additional customization features via a special extension plugin.
Pros: Lovecraft is made by Anders Norén, a highly respected WordPress theme developer.
Cons: Lovecraft is a very simple theme, and isn’t suited to (nor designed for) creating complex layouts.
Lovecraft is an ideal theme for simple blogs that don’t require any special features. It offers beautiful typography with a minimalistic design, loads quickly, and looks amazing on all devices.
Regardless of the theme you choose, one of the most critical parts of creating a seamless eCommerce experience for your mobile visitors is to serve up a blazingly fast website. This is highly dependent on your hosting provider, which is why WP Engine is a stellar choice for your next eCommerce mobile website!