Blogging 201, Branding and Growth: Day Three: Get Read All Over
“In many parts of the world, more people have access to a mobile device than to a toilet or running water” Nancy Gibbs
Blogging 201, Branding and Growth: Day Three: Get Read All Over, Part One
Over the past few days, you’ve been brainstorming about your brand and thinking about the elements of a well-designed site. None of that matters if readers can’t view your site properly across various devices.
Today’s assignment: make sure your site is mobile-friendly, and familiarize yourself with the features of responsive design.
Because a responsive website looks great on all screen sizes, from computer to tablet to phone.
Because there are mobile tools built in to WordPress.com — there’s no need to know web development to have a mobile-friendly site.
We’re a culture on the go, no longer just reading on desktop computers, but consuming information on the phones in our pockets, and sharing thoughts from iPads at 35,000 feet. People read blogs on phones — on the subway, in line, in the bathroom, just before they go to sleep at night.
In the Theme Showcase, you can choose from lots of “responsive” themes: they’re built to look great across all devices, and “respond” to different screen sizes by adjusting themselves. (While some older themes aren’t responsive, these days all new themes are.) If you’re not sure if your theme is responsive, check its description page; you can also search specifically for responsive themes.
You can use the Customizer to “test” your site on different devices — this allows you to see how responsive design works, and you can also play with options to find the perfect mix that makes you happy on the big screen and the small.
To launch the Customizer, head to your blog, click on “My Sites” in the top-left corner of the screen, and click on Customize. You’ll see these symbols near the bottom of the customizing tools:
From left to right, these symbols represent desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Clicking between them emulates the look of your content on different screens. Go ahead, click on one and watch your blog shift.
If you have a responsive theme…
… you may find that you want to make some changes — that font you loved might be too cramped on an iPhone, or you might not love the way your header changes on your Nexus. Sometimes, responsive themes move and condense different elements of your blog to create a better experience, so you’ll want to make sure you’re happy with how your widgets and menus work.
Make tweaks in the Customizer, and preview them on different screen sizes to make sure you’re satisfied with your blog’s look across all kinds of devices.
If you don’t have a responsive theme…
…ensure your site looks good on phones and tablets by enabling Minileven, a mobile-specific theme based on the Twenty Eleven theme. Any WordPress.com blogger can use Minileven for their mobile site without affecting their standard theme; your blog will automatically detect when someone’s using a phone or tablet.
Note: you don’t have to activate Minileven if your current theme is already responsive — you’ll see a note in the “Mobile” section of your Dashboard if your theme is already mobile-friendly.
Minileven has a clean design and pulls in your custom header (along with other tweaks, like custom colors or CSS), to give your mobile blog a personalized feel that’s simple and readable. To make sure it’s enabled, go to the Appearance → Mobile tab in the WP-Admin part of your dashboard and select “Yes” next to “Enable mobile theme.”
For more convo, head to The Commons, where your co-bloggers can check out your blog on their own phones and tablets, and give you a heads-up if your mobile experience could use an adjustment.