Technology is developing faster than ever before. And that acceleration is going to increase in the near future. But we’re not going to talk about technology in general. We are here to talk about WordPress. Can the opensource platform keep it up with the new devices, OSs, screen sizes, and so on. A lot depends on the theme developers nowadays, but it would be nice if there was some built-in way to optimize your themes for such situations. Responsiveness, at the moment, is one of the most sought-after features in a theme.
Responsiveness in WordPress
Almost every theme that comes out nowadays is responsive. But what is the cost? The problem is that WordPress doesn’t have a framework that allows you to natively create responsive themes. Instead developers have to use external frameworks. That isn’t a problem, but using Bootstrap, for instance, gives less control on what theme developers are doing to WordPress.
Of course, if you are a true developer, you will know how to create a website in general. You are not going to restrict yourself to only learning how to create WordPress themes. Almost every web designer knows what Bootstrap is. And why not use if? This is one of the most popular frameworks for developing responsive websites. And if you happen to be creating WordPress themes, you are going to use it. Why? Because the platform doesn’t have a native way of creating responsive sites.
So, instead of knowing that every theme created for the platform is responsive, you have to go check the feature list on the theme page. Also, there are quite a few themes that claim to be responsive, but do not show satisfactory results. I have seen a theme which claimed to be responsive, but once I resized my browser to 500px, the horizontal scrollbar appeared. The problem is that 500px is still a very common width on mobile devices. And horizontal scrolling on mobile devices could worsen experience.
So What Should WordPress do About It?
Creating responsive websites isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are many things that have to be considered. Careful planning is required if the developers want to both shorten development time and create a high quality product. Also, knowledge of a framework is going to help people a lot.
But what if WordPress integrated a framework that would automatically create all themes to be responsive? We are no longer living in an age where you can choose whether you want your site to be responsive or not. There are hundreds of different device that are going to display a website in a different way. And people are actually using just as many to browse the Internet.
WordPress should integrate (or adopt) a framework that allows developers to create the themes responsive, by nature. Instead of having to make sure that your code is compatible with Bootstrap, or whatever framework you are using, you could just call a few WordPress functions or code snippets and you will have a native guarantee that your theme is responsive.
But Why Should WordPress do it?
If you are a programmer, then you have probably heard of the C++ and Java languages. You could say that Java is much like C++. However, it is a higher level language than C++. What are higher level languages? They take away much of the boilerplate stuff that you need to write. That saves time and gives the language a much softer learning curve. Of course, if you are interested in programming at a lower level, then you can always do the boilerplate stuff by yourself (if you believe that you will do it better than the people before you).
But a lot of people are going to choose the quick way. It’s not only faster, but it prevents you from making mistakes in code that doesn’t contain the business logic of your theme.
But why should WordPress do this? The more the resources that are not provided by WordPress that are used in themes, the lesser the control of the platform. At one moment, if there are very few connections between the themes and WordPress, the developers are going to start creating something else. One of the most popular theme designers started his own website builder – Squarespace. Perhaps that’s what he saw in WordPress as a flaw.
If WordPress integrates responsiveness (other features are welcome as well), then that is going to mean higher quality themes, with better security. The fact that the platform is maintaining that code will mean that there will be much lesser room for using bad practices. The term “theme designer” is going to be just what it sounds like. Instead of having to worry that much about features, they will just have to make good looking design.
Will WordPress do it?
There is no telling what the next versions of the platform will bring. Personally, I don’t think that there were many new things that were introduced in version 4.0. It was supposed to be a major update, but it didn’t felt like that.
The things that I talked about in this post are the same that should have been implemented in this version. The public has already been introduced to 4K screens, smart watches, as well as more and more phones, phablets and tablets. If WordPress doesn’t include integrated responsiveness, as well as some other main features (perhaps sliders and page builders?) then it risks of becoming a slave to the developers of themes and plugins. That’s something that might undermine the popularity of the platform.