When making your site mobile-friendly, should you use mobile plugins or a responsive theme design? In this WordPress tutorial, Carrie Dils explains the pros and cons between the two options, and how either is a win for your users.
- In this course, we focused on using mobile plugins, which enable your site to display a separate mobile-friendly theme when viewed from a mobile device. That's one way to tackle the problem of making a site mobile friendly. The other method is to use a responsive theme on your site, such as the Utility Pro theme I showed you earlier. So which is better, a mobile plugin that adds a second theme to your site that's only seen by mobile devices, or a single responsive theme that responds to the size of the viewport and adjusts the layout accordingly? Well, as always, there are pros and cons to both.
Let's take a look. When it comes to mobile plugins, as you've seen in this course, they're very easy to implement. Also, you can implement them really quickly. As a matter of fact, right after you finish this course, you can probably go install one and use it on your site. Lastly, there are no or very low cost to implement, which is a huge plus for the budget. When it comes to responsive themes, the benefits are going to be a more cohesive user experience. Whatever your users see on your desktop is going to be the same website that they experience on a mobile device.
Also, you're guaranteed that a responsive theme will work across all mobile devices. Mobile themes are dependent on the actual device being detected, and therefore, it's possible that when new technologies come out, a mobile theme might not yet work on that device. With a responsive theme, however, you don't have that worry because the theme actually responds to the size of the viewport, no the technology that's using it. Lastly, with a responsive theme, you're making use of the most up-to-date web technologies. The conclusion, well, in the end, your user requirements and budget will drive your decision.
A mobile plugin is a great way to immediately solve the problem of making your website more accessible to mobile users, while changing your site to a responsive theme could be a lot of work and may require the help of a developer. That said, at some point, as with all websites, you'll eventually decide to update your look. When that time comes, I'd recommend choosing a responsive theme. There are a ton of great responsive themes available on the web, both free and paid. Over in the wordpress.org theme repository, you can actually search specifically for themes with a responsive layout.
Ultimately, know that whatever option you choose, whether it's a mobile plugin or a responsive theme, it's a win for your users.