Most people understand that websites are increasingly being visited from mobile devices, and that it’s essential to make sure your site looks good and is functional on small screens. Understanding the terms “responsive” and “mobile” can be helpful.
When the website is “responsive”, it simply means that as the size of the display gets smaller, the different blocks of content in your website rearrange themselves to display better. You can check to see if your site is responsive by simply making your browser window smaller on your desktop. As you make the browser window narrower – for instance, to about the width of a mobile phone – the menu might wrap into multiple lines (so that all the menu items can be seen) and sidebars will shift to positions above and below the main content area of your site.
On responsive sites, the display gets “read” by the computer from left to right, so a left sidebar will shift to a position above the main content area, and a right sidebar will shift to a position below the main content area. This is one reason why you increasingly see websites with right sidebars only.
When a website has a “mobile version” it doesn’t just shift the display around, it creates an entirely different display to better fit on the smaller screen of a mobile device. For instance, instead of just wrapping the menu to multiple lines (as in responsive sites), the menu items might all be hidden under a single “menu” or menu icon, and only display when tapped. The sidebar might disappear completely.
Once upon a time, mobile websites were actually separate websites that had to have their content changed separately. Now, websites are able to automatically detect the size of the screen (whether it’s a desktop browser, a tablet or mobile phone), and set the display accordingly, eliminating the need for a separate site.
In WordPress, whether a site is responsive and is controlled by the theme. There are a number of plug-ins available that can also help make your website a mobile site.
In ACWP, most of our website themes are responsive, although some older themes are not. Some of our faith communities and organizations that have had us create mobile themes for them. To see an example of a mobile site, visit this site from your mobile phone: http://holyfamilyfresno.org/.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments below!