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How to Make Responsive WordPress Websites (With Themes)

Using a responsive website design is no longer an option when building websites. In layman’s terms, a responsive website design makes your site look good no matter which device your visitors are using to view and interact with the content.

Considering more than 80% of people own a smartphone, ensuring your website is responsive is a must. According to mobile marketing statistics from 2016, 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site and 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device wind up calling or going to that business within 24 hours.

When you take the above into consideration, it’s easy to understand why your website’s content needs to be accessible across a variety of devices. Thankfully, making your WordPress website responsive is easy thanks to a plethora of responsive themes.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to choose a responsive WordPress theme, how to use a responsive theme for your site, and provide you with resources to learn more about responsive design and creating your own responsive WordPress theme.

How to Choose a Responsive WordPress Theme

When you set out to find a responsive theme for your site, there are a few things you need to consider. Depending on your industry, it’s important to choose a theme that not only has an appealing design but necessary features that helps your visitors learn more about your business and go from prospects to paying clients.

Here are a few key things to look for when shopping for a responsive WordPress theme for your site.  

1. Consider the Features

When it comes to features, you’ll want to look for a theme that’s got features that are in line with your industry. For example, if you’re a creative agency or a designer, you’ll want a theme that’s got the ability to showcase your portfolio as well as testimonials from past clients.

If you sell products, look for a theme that integrates well with an e-commerce plugin or allows you to display pricing tables. Similarly, if you rely on the ability to book clients from your site, look for a theme that’s got a built-in booking form.

Luckily, there are plenty of industry-specific WordPress themes that have all the necessary features and are responsive.

2. Check for Customization Options

You’ll want to look for a theme that has flexible customization options. In most cases, your theme comes with a theme settings panel that allows you to customize colors, fonts, upload your logo, and much more. If you like to experiment with different layouts, choose a theme that integrates with a page builder or has an alternative way of configuring different layouts for your pages.

3. Look for a Responsive WordPress Theme with an Appealing Design

Lastly, look for a theme that has an appealing design similar to how you want your website to look. This eliminates the time you need to spend modifying or building out the layout of your pages from scratch and it will be easier for you to customize it.

Once you’ve found a responsive WordPress theme you like, all you’ve got to do is purchase it and download the zipped file to your computer. Discover responsive WordPress themes on ThemeForest or Envato Elements

How to Get Started With Your Responsive Website

Now that you’ve got your theme, it’s time to get started building your responsive website. You’ll need to buy a domain name and a hosting plan where you will install WordPress and your preferred theme.

It’s also a good idea to prepare the content that will go on your site so you can simply copy and paste the contents when it’s time to upload it, rather than spend time searching for it.

1. A Domain Name

The first step is to buy a domain name for your website. It will allow your visitors and customers to find your website on the web. So, it’s important to choose a name that will represent your business or brand. Whenever possible, try to pair your domain name with a .COM extension. You can opt to name your website the same as your business name or you can choose your own name if you’re building a personal portfolio, blog, or a resume website.

2. A Hosting Plan

Once you’ve settled on your domain name, you need to choose a hosting plan so that people can access your site. There are plenty of options when it comes to hosting, from cheap, shared plans to more expensive, managed WordPress hosting plans.

If you’re unsure where to start, consider Envato Hosted. Envato Hosted offers premium managed WordPress hosting for $19USD (+ applicable taxes) per month but the real benefit is that they can install and setup WordPress along with your chosen theme and take care of the technical details of setting up your site.  

The Envato Hosted plan also includes:

  • Up to 100,000 monthly visits of incoming traffic, 5GB of disk space, and 100GB of monthly bandwidth.
  • Daily backups, server security, and site monitoring, as well as ongoing support from our team of WordPress experts.

3. Content and Images

Finally, take some time to prepare all the content that will go on your website. This usually includes images, copy that will go on your most important pages such as the About, Services or Work With Us pages. If you’ve got several departments, consider including bios and headshots of the people who manage each department so your visitors know who to contact.

Preparing your content in advance allows you to simply copy and paste it in place of demo content which is available with most modern themes.

How to Create Your Site

Now that you’ve got everything in place, it’s time to create your site. The first thing you’ll need to do is install WordPress. Then, you can install your theme, the necessary plugins, and continue with the theme setup and customization.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll be using the Oshine responsive WordPress theme. The Oshine theme features a modern and responsive design and can be used for a variety of niches. It includes more than 30+ demos that can be imported with a single click and used to set up your website quickly.

Oshine responsive WordPress theme
Oshine Theme

1. Install WordPress

As mentioned earlier, the first step is to install WordPress. Your hosting company will send you a welcome email that contains the link to your hosting account dashboard or control panel along with your username and password. Click the link and enter the provided information.

Once you’re logged in, you will be able to search for a section labeled WordPress Install, One-click Installers, Softaculous Installers, or something similar. Find the WordPress icon, click it, and follow the instructions.

In most cases, you’ll be greeted with a screen that prompts you to enter your site’s name and description, your desired username and password, as well as your email. Fill in the fields with your information then press the Install button.

After a few minutes, WordPress will be installed, which means you can now log in to your WordPress dashboard. Simply visit www.yoursitename.com/wp-admin (replace the yoursitename.com with your actual domain name) and input the username and password you created during installation.  

2. Install a WordPress Theme

In your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes > Add new. Then, click Upload Theme.

Installing a responsive WordPress theme
Installing the Oshine theme.

Find the downloaded zip folder that contains the theme’s files and upload it. Once the installation is done, click Activate.

3. Install Required Plugins

After you activate the theme, you’ll notice a notification in the dashboard with a message that certain plugins are required for the theme to have all of its functionality. Click the Begin installing plugins link to be taken directly to the installation screen.

Install the required plugins
Installing the required plugins.

Select all the plugins and click Install. After that, go to Plugins > All plugins > Inactive and select all inactive plugins then choose the Activate option from the drop-down menu.

How to Customize Your Site

The next part of setting up your website involves importing demo content, replacing it with your own, and modifying theme settings to include your fonts, colors, logo, and more.

1. Import Demo Content

The fastest way to set up your site is to install the demo content. This will make your theme look like your chosen demo, with all the pages created and set up so all you’ll have to do is replace the content.

To begin, go to the Oshine responsive WordPress theme and navigate to the Import tab. Select the preferred demo version and choose which contents you want to install. In our case, I’ve selected all the content and clicked the Install button. Wait for the process to complete and your site will be ready for customization. Look it over to ensure the import process was successful.

importing demo content
Importing demo content in Oshine.

Let’s proceed with replacing the demo content. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Pages and click the Edit button on the page you want to work with. In this example, we’ll be editing the home page.

The Oshine responsive WordPress theme uses the Tatsu page builder to create the layout for all the pages on your site which makes it really easy to edit them. Simply click the Edit With Tatsu button and you’ll be able to modify the layout, add additional modules, and more.

Tatsu Editor
Tatsu Editor

To edit elements on your page, simply click on the part of the page you want to edit, enter your own text and adjust the settings to your liking. You can also add additional elements like text boxes, buttons, icons, videos, images, and more.

Adding modules to the responsive WordPress theme.

2. Customize Visual Appearance

Once you’re done replacing the content with your own, it’s time to style the visual appearance of your site. Go to Oshine Options to begin customizing your site. You’ll notice there are quite a few options here.

You can upload your own logo and background image, customize the fonts used on your site, control mobile styles, set the information that displays in the footer and the header, and more. You can also customize default settings for global styles, insert your contact information as well as tracking scripts such as Google Analytics code and optimize your site’s performance by minimizing stylesheets and scripts.

How to Make a Responsive Website Theme and Why to Do It

Using a premade WordPress theme is a great way to save time and ensure your site is responsive. However, you can take your site to the next level by building your own responsive WordPress theme from scratch.

While this may seem daunting, it gives you the ultimate control over your site’s design and features. If you’re curious how to create your own responsive theme or want to learn more about responsive website design, here are a few tutorials to help you get started.

1. Responsive Web Design for Beginners

This course walks you through the basics of responsive design, explains the mobile-first approach and different layouts used in responsive web design as well as tackles more advanced topics such as making sure your images are responsive and using media queries to control the layout of your website for a variety of devices.

2. Building a Mobile First Responsive WordPress Theme

This step-by-step tutorial walks you through the process of using a starter theme and turning it into a responsive one, keeping the mobile-first approach in mind. You’ll learn how to add styles for mobile devices and transition into styling your theme for desktop devices.

3. Seven Plugins to Help Your Mobile Users

In this post, you’ll discover seven helpful WordPress plugins that will optimize your site for mobile devices; from making sure your images and widgets are responsive to covering plugins specific to ensuring your site looks good on mobile devices, even if your theme is not yet responsive.

Get Started With Your Responsive Website

Creating a responsive website may seem daunting but responsive WordPress themes make that task much easier, even for complete beginners. Use our tutorial above as a reference point and explore additional resources about responsive web design. And if you need a responsive WordPress theme, check out our collection of high-quality, responsive WordPress themes for any industry.