There are seemingly a million and one different devices with which you can browse the internet. From gigantic TV’s and monitors, laptops, tablets, to a multitude of smart phones, each one having a different screen size.
To keep up with the technology and the way that your visitors interact with your website, you must have the technology to make your website function correctly on each of those devices.
This is responsive web design.
If you have ever tried to view a website on a smartphone and had to use the zoom to the max and still squint, then you can see the need for this technology. It is good then that more and more themes are becoming responsive as the demand for different technology grows, and as more website owners realise the need for responsive design.
Responsive web design isn’t just for premium themes, there are some solid free theme s available which will display your awesome content correctly across multiple devices, and the aptly named Responsive theme is one of them.
Responsive is at heart quite a basic yet clean theme, if you are looking for a ton of options to change different aspects of the theme such as font colour, etc. then you are out of luck, go try on of the exceptional Themify themes.
That does not mean that Responsive is bad, on the contrary, it is still a powerful theme. It makes use of the Page templates to great effect, with 9 different ones:
- Blog (full post)
- Blog (excerpts)
- Content/sidebar (right hand sidebar)
- Content/sidebar half page
- Full width
- Landing Page
- Sidebar/Content (left hand sidebar)
- Sidebar/content half page
The fact that you can use these to create various different looks to your site means that more options aren’t really necessary.
I really appreciate the inclusion of the Blog Excerpts template as so many people struggle to get excerpts on their site, and also the Landing Page template, which is perfect for anyone that wants to market something or create a funnel.
The Home Page
Responsive comes with a built in home page – some people love these, some loathe them. Personally I fall into the second category but I do see their usefulness especially when first starting out with WordPress.
These built in home pages are unlike standard Posts and Pages, in that they have a fixed structure and you usually (and Responsive is no different here) add the content for that page in the Theme Settings page, which is very counter intuitive.
In Responsive’s favour you can set a static Page via the WordPress Settings > Reading options, so you can use that to have a different home page, or use the power of the Blog template and have a blog there. Some themes with custom home pages don’t allow you to remove them.
As well as the Home Page settings, you can also add in a custom header, change the default layouts for Posts and Pages, add in Webmaster tools verification, a reasonable selection of social media links and the usual place for custom CSS and Scripts.
Pretty standard stuff.
As previously mentioned there are no options for customising the background or font colours, font types or sizes, or really anything visual except the header image and layouts. Therefore you will need to use CSS to make those modifications.
It works brilliantly!
Really, no matter what device you view a site with Responsive on, it looks excellent. The text is clear and easily readable; the images look great as well.
The menu shrinks into a simple button, which the user can touch to expand the menu. The only thing I don’t like is the menu button image: its three horizontal lines, and whilst some people understand that this means menu, it isn’t that common place yet, so having the word Menu as a replacement or next to it would have been a nice touch.
Personally I find the lack of options great, of course I am comfortable with CSS, but I like the blank slate look, and when using it on multiple sites, the lack of options make it really easy and quick to set up.
Overall for a free theme you cannot go wrong with Responsive for most types of websites.
If you do want more options there is also the Pro version for a very reasonable $24 currently and in addition to the free version features it contains:
- 12 colourful skins
- Typography (font) options from Google Fonts
- Custom background and favicon