I’ve just answered an email asking about responsive themes, and I thought it would be a good idea to post my answer here too.  I was asked if any of my themes were responsive, and this is my reply.

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No they aren’t I’m afraid.  It’s a difficult thing to do and it’s often an unsatisfying result I find.

If you look at how YouTube have approached it recently, it’s ticked off a lot of people including my eldest son and his friends, who have had custom page templates designed in the past that were meant for a desktop based web browser rather than mobile.

What I’d like to see is a dual hit method where a theme presented the regular desktop appearance when viewed with a desktop browser, and something much simpler when viewed with a mobile device.  And there’s another problem, because what resolution do you define as mobile?  Cell phones – yes.  Tablets – hmm, maybe, oh okay yes then.  But what size tablet would you serve the mobile view?  My Kindle Fire HD is a 7 inch device but has a resolution of 1280×800.

Viewing “normal” web browser page is a little difficult because it’s only a 7 inch display, and a mobile view of sites would suit it better.  In contrast the monitor sitting next to me is a 19 inch device with a resolution only a little better than my Kindle at 1360×768, but viewing a mobile page on it would just be silly.  😉

And…  Cell phones will soon have (if they haven’t already) very high resolution displays but still tiny screens to show content.  What view do you serve them? Or do you just serve the same content to all devices and let the device sort it out?

That doesn’t work because of the resolution issue I discussed above.

*sigh*

I guess that eventually someone (it might be me) will come up with a clever (and simple!) solution, but it seems for now that we’re either stuck with normal desktop browser views, or responsive where everything moves around to occupy a different layout depending on the resolution of the device.  Neither is a very good answer.

It seems the only way to do it to make everyone happy is to have a number of different page views depending on device rather than on screen resolution.  You can sort of guess this by browser and OS, but sometimes it’s going to be wrong.

If you go to Starbucks.com on your desktop browser and then gradually narrow the browser you’ll see how the site adjusts, stacking images underneath each other.  That’s okay, but their site has had to be designed VERY simplistically and blockish for this to work.

Hands in air, right now I don’t know how to approach this but I guess at some point with some thought I’ll come up with something.

-Frank Haywood