This is an open question to the WordPress community:

have WordPress developers gone doolally over responsive web design?

Ok admittedly that’s a very blunt question, so let me explain. I was going over my site stats this morning while simultaneously checking email, reading the news, drinking coffee and patting the dog – as you do – and in true geek fashion the screen resolution stats for wpliving tickled my fancy!

After a little more scrutiny and a bit of simple math, I came to the conclusion that around 90% of the visitors to my site have screen sizes larger than 1024x768px, which is the standard iPad landscape resolution. Here, go ahead and see for yourself:

18% — 1920 × 1080
17% — 1280 × 800
11% — 1440 × 900
11% — 1366 × 768
8% — 1680 × 1050
8% — 1920 × 1200
7% — 2560 × 1440
7% — 1280 × 1024
4% — 1600 × 900
4% — 1024 × 768
3% — 800 × 600
2% — 320 × 480

What does this mean? It means that less than 10% of my visitors access the site on portable devices. This raises a number of questions:

  • Is the massive marketing emphasis placed on “responsive WordPress themes” (google those terms and witness the sheer quantity of results) justified?
  • Are customers (including myself) not being effectively coerced by developers and marketplaces into thinking that anything that isn’t responsive is Bad with a capital B?
  • Am I not doing enough to attract mobile/portable device users to my site? If not, what should I be doing to improve these stats?

Now, I realize that one tiny data set such as the one I’ve pasted above is by no means representative of a general trend, so if you’re reading this post and you happen to be a developer or a website owner with experience in basic web analytics, I’d be very interested to hear whether you’re seeing a similar pattern on your site or not.

Finally, this whole topic has got me thinking about what I can do to attract more mobile users to my site. For example, is there an optimum content type and/or content layout that would work well across all platforms? What are some of the things we should avoid as content producers when thinking about making our sites more mobile friendly? It would be very cool to hear about other people’s experiences with responsive design.

Masthead photo courtesy of Chasing Daisy.