Block 3 is your WordPress themeIt’s a fact of life. Over 30% of websites today are viewed on mobile devices — smart phones and tablet computers.

You want those readers to have a good experience with your site, because frankly, if they don’t they won’t stick around.

Now there’s an even more compelling reason to use a mobile responsive WordPress theme — search rankings. Google recently announced:

“Starting April 21 [2015], we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

That means, if your site isn’t mobile responsive, you pretty much won’t show up in Google search. I know they’re rolling it out, because yesterday Google sent me an email telling me that one of my old sites, which I no longer keep up-to-date, is not mobile responsive. They included some helpful hints for making it friendlier to view on mobile devices, and warned that it will affect search rankings for that site.

Some companies build one site for people using regular computers and browsers and a completely different site for the mobile users. That’s one solution, but it’s not practical for small businesses. Trust me, you’ll be busy enough keeping one site up to date without having to coordinate several versions of it.

Another choice is to use a WordPress plugin like WPTouch that automatically recognizes a mobile device and shows those viewers a completely different version of the site. It works, but it’s not very elegant or appealing. It also hurts your ranking in the search engines.

The third, and best, choice, is to choose a mobile responsive WordPress theme. The theme does all the heavy lifting. It recognizes the mobile browser and adapts accordingly, giving the reader a good viewing experience while keeping the basic look and feel of your website the way you designed it.

Why Choose a Mobile Responsive Theme?

Going with a mobile responsive theme instead of building a separate mobile site or using a plugin helps you in three ways.

  1. You’re only updating one site.
  2. You’ll do better in the search results
  3. Your site will look the way you want it to across all devices

Wouldn’t you know, the day after I wrote my first draft of this article, Copyblogger wrote an excellent piece on mobile responsive design. They show some great examples of different sites on several screen sizes.

How Can You See What It Looks Like on Different Devices?

No, you don’t have to go out and buy an iPhone, iPad, Android tablet, Windows tablet, and a variety of other phones to check how your site looks. Just go here, type in the URL and you can see what it looks like in other devices.

Here’s what an article in my Future Expats Forum site looks like on different devices.

3 views of the same article

The text is perfectly readable in all devices, from a small phone to an iPad or other tablet, to a full-sized screen.

A lot of your mobile visitors will be coming from a link on social media, search, or an email. They won’t be going to the home page, they link directly to a specific post that answers a question for them. And the mobile responsive theme makes it easy to read in all of these devices.

Studio Press and Elegant Themes are the WordPress theme designers I recommend most often.

Studio Press has already made 23 of its designs mobile responsive. All their future designs will be mobile responsive as well, and they’re planning to convert the rest of their existing themes over the next few months.

You can see all the current mobile responsive themes here – just select “mobile responsive” on the right.

Fifteen of Elegant Themes’ offerings are mobile responsive. You can see them here.

Questions about what a mobile responsive theme is and how to use it? Let me know in the questions section below.