Why You Should Avoid Responsive Templates on Your Joomla Website

It seems that every single 3rd party company developing Joomla extensions has either created or is creating a responsive template and is marketing that template to its customer base as the next big thing. Even RSJoomla, a company that we really like and respect, is doing that…

We have to say that we’re amazed at how many people are duped into believing that a responsive template is the way to go. “What?”, you may probably ask… Well, let us explain…

The main reasons why most people go with a responsive template is the following:

  • It makes their website work flawlessly on smartphones, tablets, and PCs.
  • It gives their website a consistent look across all browsers/platforms without doing any additional work.
  • It is usually easy to modify.
  • It’s cheap.

But… on the flip side, responsive templates suffer from the following drawbacks:

  • Responsive templates are very heavy on the client

    The moment you switch to a responsive template you will notice how heavy it is on your browser. Even if your server processes the page very rapidly (which is usually not the case when using a responsive template), the page will not load immediately on your browser because of all the advanced JavaScript and CSS running/loading in the background. We have seen many instances of browsers hanging when trying to load a page powered by a responsive template. This is a huge negative, because, as we all know, the moment your visitor feels that your website is sucking the power out of his machine, he’s going to just leave.

  • Responsive templates are very heavy on the server

    Most companies market their responsive templates as light, simple, straightforward – but the reality couldn’t be far from the truth. These templates are not light – and that’s why all of the responsive templates have built-in caching (that often conflicts with Joomla’s own cache). Why-oh-why would a template have its own caching if it’s that simple and that light? But, even with that dedicated/independent caching, page loads are noticeably higher for responsive templates than for non-responsive ones. We’re not talking about a mere 2% hit in page load here, we’re talking about much, much more than that (which often results in an avalanche effect leading to a completely unresponsive server)! In the good old days, people were more forgiving towards slow websites – they used to wait (most likely because these people thought the slow loading time was because of their Internet connection). Nowadays people expect their pages to load immediately – or they will immediately leave. Not a good thing for business!

    But why are responsive templates that heavy on the server?

    None of the Joomla responsive templates we have examined so far are optimized; since these templates are developed by designers and not real developers, little care is given to the performance if the website has a lot of content and/or the website has a lot of traffic.

  • Responsive templates are not easy to modify

    Yes – we know – we just mentioned that one of the reasons that people go with a responsive template because it’s easily modifiable. The thing is the easily modifiable part applies when the modifications that you want are within the template’s boundaries (or settings). In other words, heavy modifications cannot be made from the sleek (and usually very slow) interface, but they need to be done in the code itself, and this is where it can get really, really messy! The code there is extremely hard to decipher read, and it’s not just in one place. It’s spread over many places.

    You want to modify a responsive template? It’s better to call on an expert programmer to do that for you. Suddenly, that responsive template that you bought for a few dollars is costing you much more in time, money, and frustration!

  • Templates should not be products that require continuous maintenance

    We believe that a template should be the most static and stable thing on a dynamic website. In other words, the least of your worry should be directed towards your website’s template (in an ideal world, the most of your worry/attention should be directed towards your content and your website’s placement in the search engines) – this is not the case with a responsive template. A responsive template requires continuous attention and maintenance – this is because it’s a product of its own – a product that can get hacked, a product that gets outdated, a product that requires the upgrade of other products. This means that you will end up maintaining both your Joomla core and your template. In short, you are just adding unnecessary overhead to your already tight daily schedule!

So, what’s the best solution to support mobile devices?

Well, the solution is with adapting your template to support mobile devices – in other words, you will need to create another template that will be automatically loaded for mobile devices. Not only this will ensure that you won’t experience the slowness and other issues mentioned above, but it’ll also ensure a much better browsing experience for those with mobile devices, because the design and the content are both specifically tailored for them.

If you need help adapting your website to mobile devices, then please contact us. We have helped many companies do this and we’re certain we can help you. Our fees are very affordable, our work is ultra-professional, we are very friendly people, and we always answer the phone!

By the way, if you’re stuck with a responsive template then we can help you as well – all you need is ask!

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