Best Responsive Themes Review – Part I
A lot of websites and developers are claiming that they have the best responsive themes, but at this point, I beg to differ. Because I do most of my website design using a WordPress theme, the sites that I have been testing design responsive WordPress templates. The problem that I have encountered, even with some of the largest design firms is that they are NOT all responsive themes!
I test themes using two different methods:
- Demo the site on my smartphone
- Install the site on my desktop
The easiest way is to select a theme that has a demo feature so that I can see how it displays on my desktop. If I feel satisfied that the theme is appealing to my design sensibilities, I will then type the demo URL into my smartphone. This is the moment of truth, as stated earlier, not all of these themes are truly responsive. I test in both vertical and horizontal modes. If a site does not display well when in vertical mode, I will move on, as it is easier for most people to hold it that way.
The best responsive themes will display well in both vertical and horizontal modes. However, oftentimes, what I will see on my smartphone is just a reduced website, which I have to adjust by pinching the screen to read it or select buttons and hyperlinks. If this is the case, I move on to the next test site.
If, however, the test site does respond well to my phone, I will then compare the two displays – my desktop to my phone. While some of you may be aware of Google’s GoMo site where you can type in a URL and see how it displays on a mobile phone, the downside of this is that it is not interactive. In other words, you can’t scroll or touch the screen to see if the hyperlinks respond favorably.
Intensive Installation Test
The next way to test a WP responsive theme is to actually download a few free responsive WordPress themes and install them onto a test site of mine. In my cPanel, I create what is called a subdomain. This way, I can freely import and export files, images, widgets, other media, and plug-ins between the main domain and subdomain. This is the most intensive test, since I am able to test how certain plug-ins, graphics, and widgets respond to the theme. I usually use the tools feature to import an entire site when available, so that my test site is populated. I can also download the images to measure the size of the graphics, as not all images adjust the same. If I am having problems with the display on my desktop, I may try to fix these or search the theme’s forum to see if others are having the same issues. The reason why I don’t do this first is that there are so many designers who have different skill levels and it would not serve me if I relied on their comments without giving the theme a go myself. Additionally, when appropriate, I will modify the actual code of the theme to suit my design and purposes. If all is working well without too much difficulty, I will do the final test again on my smartphone.
I find that the best responsive themes do not need much in the way of adjustments – either in the code or with regards to color and design. Some my very best results have been with free responsive WordPress themes, rather than premium themes.
Here are today’s recommendations:
- For several months we used the free WordPress responsive Yasmin theme by Jinsona. Click here to download. However, one of the plug-ins corrupted my server – twice! My remedy was not to use the plug-ins.
- Prismacolor Pencils uses the Yoko theme by Elmastudio. Click here to download.
“Best Responsive Themes Review – Part I” was written by Brenne Meirowitz, BA, MA, MS.
©2012 Brenne Meirowitz. All Rights Reserved.