Obstructed View is now responsive

If there's been one thing about our move to WordPress that has irritated us the most, it's the lack of mobile options. There are several, but each comes with their drawbacks. Most recently we learned there were some issues with the mobile theme we were using. It wasn't anything major, but enough of an issue that something had to be done. An increasing amount of you are accessing this site on devices other than a desktop. This is fantastic for us, but it's important our mobile theme be as functional as possible.

Even when the mobile theme seemed to work, I much preferred to switch over to the desktop version. It wasn't difficult to do, but it made the user experience less friendly. When we learned that there were some commenting issues it was time to abandon the mobile platform we've used since our move to WordPress in early 2012. It was also time to figure out a long-term solution.

That wasn't, in our opinion, ever going to be displaying the desktop version of the site on mobile devices. Our mobile theme looked nothing like our desktop theme, which we have spent considerable time designing (probably poorly). This too was always problematic and is for many sites that use different themes.

Managing the files in one theme is difficult enough, but managing them in two themes is nearly impossible for a site like this that isn't making a huge profit. It wasn't worth our time, but since upwards of 20% of our traffic is being viewed on non-desktop devices, something had to be done. The desktop version was acceptable. This left one option: designing the mobile theme to look as close to similar to the desktop theme, but that's far too much work and it still leaves us having to maintain two separate themes.

Responsive themes have become quite popular as the number of devices grow. These themes format the content to the size of the device being used. You can use one theme for both mobile content and for those using a laptop or desktop. The theme will look the same on a smart phone, a tablet or a much larger screen. The only difference is the order in which elements of the page are displayed. Since the content is most important, it's front and center on a mobile phone while the sidebar elements are pushed to the bottom. On your mobile phone, the login module will therefore be pushed to the bottom of the page. We're looking into an alternative in which we could place it in the menu, but for now it's at the bottom on your phone and in the same place otherwise.

The site basically looks the same. If you didn't access this site on a mobile phone and I didn't write this post, you may not have noticed anything. Perhaps you'd have noticed a few styling changes or a different font being used, but you'd not have noticed anything significant. The most significant change is that there is no background on the menu.

You can now access Obstructed View from any of your devices and the content will be easily read. The comments section will be the same as the one you'd use on your desktop. There's no need to familiarize yourself with two different layouts when one will suffice. There is one exception for the time being: comment numbers. Most desktop browsers support ordered lists, but mobile devices usually don't. As a result, the numbers you see outside the comment box on your desktop won't be visible on the mobile device. We're looking into ways to number the comments so they can be seen on all devices. I don't know how much those numbers matter to you, but I very much prefer it when comments are numbered.

There could be some bugs. There may be a situation in which the theme doesn't format itself to your device. There's literally no way to have a website function the same in every browser on every phone, tablet or computer. It's just not possible without spending a lot of money that we don't have.

I've tested the site on the following browsers: Mac Safari/Firefox/Chrome, Windows 7 IE8/Firefox/Chrome, Vista IE7/1E8/Firefox/Chrome, iPhone Chrome/Safari, iPad Chrome/Safari and have been told it displays correctly on a few different Android devices. If there is a problem with a specific OS and/or browser it's almost certainly going to be IE6 or earlier. Hopefully there is not, but as long as it is in some way functional on that browser or earlier I'm not going to invest any time trying to figure it out.

One unseen consequence of switching to the responsive theme was the table layout of the forum. HTML tables and responsive themes don't work well with one another. Because of thise we've moved our forum to a new installation and there is a link on the menu in the same location. Since it's a new installation, people will have to register on the new forum. We're sorry for the invonvenience, but you can still post on our blog without being registered. The latest commented topics are on the sidebar, as well as the footer.

In the future, if you have questions, comments or complaints about something related to the layout of the site, please leave them in the forum. There is a thread already set up specifically for it.

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