One statement that’s made from time to time in the website world is this: “I don’t have a mobile-friendly website but I love the way it looks.” More specifically, when it comes to WordPress sites, it can be asked this way: “I love my theme but it’s not mobile-friendly. Is that okay?”
Not too long ago, the need for a mobile-friendly website (also commonly called a “responsive site,” since the site responds to the size of the device) was considered optional. However, as far back as 2014, web traffic studies have shown that the majority of web browsing occurs on mobile devices. In 2015, desktop browsing was down to 42%, and more importantly, Google announced that it would be “expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal” beginning April 21, 2015. In other words, sites that aren’t mobile-friendly are punished in Google’s search engine rankings when someone searches from a mobile device. This means you have two important reasons for making a mobile-friendly site a priority: over half of your traffic is likely mobile, and your search rankings will suffer without it.
Finding a mobile-friendly website theme
If you’re searching for a theme, it’s very easy to find a responsive one. If you navigate to Appearance > Themes > Add New in your WordPress Dashboard, you’ll notice a gear icon next to “Feature Filter.” Click there and the third option is “Responsive Layout.” Check the box and click the “Apply Filters” button, and only responsive themes will show. You can also do the same search at wordpress.org/themes or visit this link directly to view responsive themes.
How to make a non-responsive theme play nicely on mobile
Thankfully, if you absolutely love a theme that isn’t mobile-friendly, workarounds exist. You’ll have to sacrifice the look of the theme on mobile, but at least your site will be easier to access on a mobile device. We’ve previously highlighted the Jetpack plugin, but one previously unmentioned feature is the ability to turn on a mobile site. It looks somewhat generic, but it’s simple to activate and gets the job done.
If you’re unsure whether or not your site plays well on mobile, you can run a quick test on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Whatever theme you use, be sure to have a good option for mobile browsing. The majority of your users will be very glad you did!