The 2012 calendar year is swiftly drawing to a close, and although there were a number of features within themes that made headlines over the past twelve months, our readers here at WPHub.com have selected Responsive Design as the most important template consideration of the year.
The poll article we published last week offered several options, including Social Media integration, Unlimited Color schemes, support and updates, well rounded products, plus an option to vote for another choice. However, when all was said and done, over three-quarters of those who participated in the poll said that Responsive Design was the most vital feature released in premium WordPress themes during 2012.
In fact, 66 out of 85 total votes were cast for Responsive Design. Here’s a look at the poll results.
Why Responsive Design?
This year, theme companies and developers have come to terms with the fact that mobile device users are gaining a stronger hold when it comes to overall Internet users. With the invention of smart phones comes the ability to seamlessly browse through websites as if one were seated at home or work thanks to enhanced wireless service.
A couple of years ago, just about anyone browsing the Internet from a smart phone would often have to deal with websites that could not adjust to smaller front-end screen sizes. This was because content had traditionally been laid out to fit a desktop monitor or laptop screen, with no additional consideration for those who may be using tablet computers or in need or a customized view.
This frustrated mobile device users in many ways, and thumb-scrolling plus pinching became the norm as readers had to constantly zoom in and out to read articles, view material, and shop online. A number of WordPress extensions were released that could adapt to smaller screens, but this in many cases meant that a webmaster required an additional “Child Theme” that would take over whenever a smaller screen was detected.
The Market Adjusts
It didn’t take long for premium theme companies to begin incorporating a customized layout for small screen users into their templates. In fact, this procedure became the norm during 2012, with companies who were unable to shift quickly potentially losing revenue because of their lack of responsive downloads.
By giving mobile device users a special, readable format which fits onto a screen without the need to scroll, websites have benefited greatly. Take the WooCommerce management system as an example. Now more than ever, smartphone users are shopping online, and even “expecting” websites to offer a responsive design from the first time they visit (even if the front-end shopper is unaware that the consideration is being made). There are many iPhone and Android Internet “surfers” who will immediately leave a website if they are not able to view a reasonable amount of content without doing performing all the thumb tricks (which are better suited for gaming in my opinion).
What About Other Features?
It is true that the WordPress marketplace also enjoyed increased sales and exposure through social media integration, well-rounded products, and unlimited services. More than ever, premium WordPress themes offer an enormous amount of value that can result in thousands of dollars in savings almost from the time they are purchased.
However, it was Responsive Design that paved the way for a landmark year for the open marketplace. It will be interesting to see what the most important theme feature of next year will be.
This Week’s WPHub Poll
With the heavy emphasis currently placed on Content Generation, we decided to ask our readers to vote on their Favorite Article Type. As always, we will provide a follow up article next week which shows the results of how our readers voted.