Many graphic designers are not necessarily web gurus by any stretch of the imagination, especially those more focused on print. Heck, even designers with web skills may have trouble adapting to the new digital world of audiences inhaling content via multiple devices and screen sizes. Responsive web design is the craft of creating a single website that fosters an optimal web experience through any device by implementing a variety of techniques including proportional grids, CSS3 media queries and flexible images. A slew of companies (including us) are moving to a responsive design in 2014. In the past, it has been fairly easy for blogs and content heavy destinations to cater to mobile users, but nowadays, almost any type of website can (and should) render cross platform without the need for a secondary mobile website.
Hundreds of thousands of designers utilize WordPress as home to their main website portfolio, and that can be a good thing since switching themes is, for the most part, very easy. Graphic designers showcasing their artwork using a WordPress setup can seriously consider moving to a responsive design. There are many very nicely designed responsive templates, or themes, geared for portfolio-based websites. Sure, some of us like to create our own website from scratch, but remember any template can be manipulated to feel unique while also helping us learn the depths of responsive design.
This first theme, named Cesar, from ThemeForest is a clean (that’s my thing) responsive design that is Retina ready and geared towards photo studios or photographers. Nine portfolio versions and fifteen gallery templates along with some other nifty page ideas (like password protected galleries) makes this template pretty awesome for WordPress users. Price $49. I used this image to portray how responsive design works: one website for all devices and screen sizes.
This next responsive template from MonsterTemplate.com uses a simplistic grid system based on Cherry Framework which allows for advanced features and is specifically for designers, artists and photo studios. I do like how Template Monster provides very detailed specifications of what is required for proper installation of files. Price: $75.
This responsive portfolio theme, Sunspot, is available directly from WordPress. Automattic, the company behind WordPress, has actually improved it’s base templates tremendously in the last year by adding a decent lineup of responsive themes to the mix. Sunspot attracted my attention since it is a dark alternative to my usual design choices, and the theme allows for a nice mix of images and text. The price tag of FREE also makes Sunspot a winner.
While investigating, I discovered another WordPress themes destination I’d never personally utilized before – ElegantThemes.com. They have a pretty nifty plan that costs a one time fee of $39 for access to 87 themes (21 of them being responsive). The below theme, named Fable, has some interesting characteristics for a portfolio theme. First, it has the long scroll home page which gained a huge amount of popularity starting in 2013. The image-based theme is spacious and includes four nice portfolio templates to choose from (large images, medium, small, no text).
Designed with creative agencies in mind, the below theme, MetroVibes, is inspired by Microsoft’s Window’s goal of serving one design for all devices. Admittedly, I love this modern color scheme better than the current bright Windows version. Provided by Themefuse.com, the theme looks wonderful in every screen size, has a killer home page and stunning blog area … and remains significantly SEO friendly. The theme also includes many code snippets for video galleries, mapping, menus and charts. Price $59.
This next theme, Future, was found on Mojo-themes.com and is one of my favorite portfolio themes since it is built on the Twitter Bootstrap 3 framework. With ten beautiful color schemes (red and black were my favorites), four portfolio page layouts and five distinct home page variances based on different business models, this HTML5 theme really shines. All versions are clean and bold and is very much centered around the portfolio/gallery needs of photographers, artists and numerous creative agencies. Price $49.
Another nice theme founded on Mojo-themes.com includes this minimalist Pinterest styled design called MyWay that offers an easy-to-use navigation menu on the left side. Using Bootstrap Framework 3.0, this fully responsive theme is Retina Ready and offers a palette of portfolio setups to choose from. Perfect for freelancers, agencies, designers and creative people or very creative companies.
A final Retina ready theme from Themeforest.net shares qualities of some of the aforementioned responsive themes. With four outstanding portfolio layouts and a whopping eight single project page layouts, Impreza by WooCommerce deserves to be mentioned in this article. But wait, there’s more. This theme also includes e-commerce pages, landing pages, code snippets, numerous internal pages and icon sets. This is an extremely well-rounded responsive theme for only $45.
Clearly, there are many beautiful options for switching almost any WordPress portfolio into a responsive design that facilitates all visitors. Good luck!