WordPress Doesn’t Display Correctly On Mobile (How To Fix It)

WordPress Doesn’t Display Correctly On Mobile (How To Fix It). In today’s world, having a website that displays well on mobile devices is crucial. With more and more people browsing the web on their phones and tablets, a site that doesn’t adapt to smaller screens risks losing a large portion of its audience.

If you have a WordPress site that looks good on desktop but breaks or displays incorrectly on mobile, don’t panic. There are several things you can try to get your site looking its best no matter the device. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the most common reasons WordPress may not be mobile-friendly and show you how to fix them. So, How to Fix WordPress Not Displaying Correctly on Mobile?


Common Causes of WordPress Mobile Display Issues

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Before we dig into solutions, let’s look at some of the typical culprits behind WordPress not rendering properly on mobile:

Using a Non-Responsive Theme

Many free WordPress themes are designed for desktop viewing only. They use fixed widths and lack responsive design elements to optimize the layout for mobile. If your theme is not coded to be responsive, it likely won’t adjust for small screens.

The solution is to switch to a responsive WordPress theme that uses fluid widths and breakpoints to adapt the design. More on that shortly.

Problems with Your Theme’s Responsive Stylesheet

Themes that are responsive may still have issues with the mobile stylesheet. If the theme relies on a separate CSS file to handle responsive styles, it could have bugs or need customization to work properly.

You may need to troubleshoot and edit the mobile CSS to fix display problems. We’ll go over how later in this guide.

Plugins Causing Conflicts

Some plugins are not coded well for responsive design. Caching, security, ads, and other plugins can sometimes interfere with themes’ mobile styling if not updated or configured correctly.

Try selectively disabling plugins to find conflicts. You may need to replace outdated plugins or tweak their settings to be mobile-compatible.

Images Not Sizing Correctly

Large images that are not set to scale down for mobile are a common problem. Huge desktop images can overflow containers or force mobile users to scroll horizontally to see the whole image.

Using responsive image sizing, srcsets, or CSS to make images resize for mobile can help. We’ll explain how below.

Content Width Issues

If your content containers have fixed pixel widths, this can prevent them from scaling down for mobile screens. Content will overflow and force horizontal scrolling.

Setting containers to use percentage or fluid widths instead can create a responsive content area.

There are other less common factors that can also cause mobile display issues, like using incompatible caching plugins or JavaScript conflicts. But the problems above account for most cases.

Now let’s go through how to fix each of these issues in WordPress.


Switching to a Responsive Mobile-Friendly Theme

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If your current WordPress theme is not designed to be responsive, the best option is to switch to a mobile-friendly theme.

Trying to hack a non-responsive theme to be responsive can quickly turn into a frustrating mess. You’re better off starting fresh with a natively responsive theme.

When choosing a new responsive theme, look for these features:

  • Fluid layout: The theme should use percentage widths rather than fixed pixels for the main containers and content areas. This allows them to flex to fit different screen sizes.
  • Breakpoints: A good responsive theme will have CSS breakpoints that trigger layout changes at certain screen widths. For example, the menu may change to a “hamburger” icon and columns may stack vertically below 600 px screen width.
  • Responsive images: Images should resize and scale to fit their containers when viewed on mobile. The theme should provide responsive image support out of the box.
  • Mobile menu: Make sure the theme has an optimized responsive mobile menu that works well on touch devices. It should be easy to tap menu items without zooming in.
  • No horizontal scrolling: You shouldn’t have to scroll left-right to view any parts of the site on mobile. The theme should prevent horizontal scrolling for all page elements.

Some popular responsive WordPress themes to consider include:

  • Astra: Very lightweight and fast theme with a simple responsive design. Lots of customization options.
  • GeneratePress: Speed-focused responsive theme with a drag-and-drop page builder. Good for blogs and simple sites.
  • OceanWP: Beautiful modern design with many demos. Good for multi-purpose sites and online stores.
  • Themify Ultra: Feature-packed theme with multi-page layouts and a built-in drag-and-drop builder.
  • Divi: An extremely popular theme with the Divi page builder. Very customizable (but can be slow).

Once you’ve chosen a solid responsive theme, install and activate it on your site. Then customize the design and start recreating your current site layout using the new theme.

Take your time and make sure elements like menus, images, widgets, etc. all adapt well for mobile views during testing. Tweaking theme settings can help refine the mobile experience.

The work upfront is worth it for a site that works on all devices!

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Troubleshooting and Editing Theme Mobile Stylesheets

If your theme is responsive but still having mobile display issues, the problem may lie in the CSS. Many themes rely on a separate mobile.css stylesheet to handle responsive styles.

Errors or gaps in this stylesheet could be causing problems. Here’s how to find and edit your theme’s mobile CSS:

Locate the Mobile Stylesheet

  1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard, and go to Appearance » Editor
  2. On the right side, look for a file like mobile.css, responsive.css, or theme-name-responsive.css. This is your responsive stylesheet.

Review Critical Mobile Styles

When you open the stylesheet, look for styles controlling these elements:

  • Container widths (#content, .container, etc.)
  • Image max-widths
  • Menu and mobile menu appearance
  • Column widths and floats
  • Font sizes

Make sure suitable responsive CSS exists for each. If not, you may need to add it.

Test Edits on Mobile

Make small tweaks to fix the display issues you see:

  • Decrease container max-widths
  • Increase image max-widths
  • Adjust floats and columns
  • Bump up font sizes

After each edit, save changes and preview on mobile to test. Refine until the site looks good.

Enqueue Stylesheet Properly

Make sure the mobile.css stylesheet is being enqueued. In functions.php, you should see:

function theme_name_scripts() {

  wp_enqueue_style( 'theme-name-mobile', get_template_directory_uri() . '/mobile.css', array('theme-name-style'), '1.0' );


add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'theme_name_scripts' );

This loads the mobile.css file on all pages. If it’s missing, add it.

With some targeted tweaks to the responsive stylesheet, you can fix many mobile display issues. Just take it slow and test frequently on actual mobile devices.

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Checking for Plugin Conflicts

Thoroughly test your site on mobile after disabling all plugins. If the bare WordPress site displays fine, you know a plugin is causing trouble.

Enable plugins one-by-one, checking mobile each time, until you find the conflict. Try these troubleshooting steps:

Disable Plugin Completely

The easiest option is to leave the problem plugin disabled. Do you really need it?

If it’s an ad or analytics plugin, remove it. If it’s core to the site, you’ll have to find another solution.

Update the Plugin

Is the plugin outdated? Try updating it to the newest version. Bug fixes and improvements may resolve incompatibilities.

Make sure to clear caches after updating plugins. Also check for plugin updates specifically mentioning mobile, responsive design, or compatibility fixes.

Tweak Plugin Settings

Some plugins have settings that can be tweaked to improve mobile performance. Common options to check:

  • Disable scripts/stylesheets – Only load on necessary pages
  • Set image widths – Hardcode exact pixels to prevent overflow
  • Enable responsive embed – For video etc. to resize
  • Disable above a breakpoint – Hide elements on mobile views

Refer to plugin documentation for available settings related to mobile and responsiveness.

Use Compatible Alternative Plugin

If tweaking settings doesn’t work, the plugin may just have bugs or flawed mobile handling. Look for an alternative plugin in the same category that specifically supports responsive design. Popular plugins are usually safer bets for mobile compatibility.

With some testing and adjustments, you should be able to find and fix conflicts from problematic plugins.

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Make Images Responsive

Large desktop images can wreak havoc on mobile layouts if they aren’t set up to resize down for smaller screens.

Making your WordPress images responsive is key for optimal mobile performance. Here are some techniques:

Use Max-Width CSS

In your theme CSS, target images and add:

img {
  max-width: 100%;
  height: auto;

This will make images fluid, scaling down if their container gets narrower but not expanding larger than their native size.

<picture> Element for Art Direction

For more control over image sizing, use the HTML <picture> element with multiple sources.

Specify different image files, sizes, and breakpoints. For example:

  <source media="(max-width: 600px)" srcset="mobile-image.jpg">
  <source media="(min-width: 601px)" srcset="desktop-image.jpg">

This displays mobile-image.jpg below 600px screen width and desktop-image.jpg above 601px.

Responsive Image Plugins

Plugins like Responsive Images, Imagify, and EWWW can automatically generate smaller image versions and simplify <picture> markup.

They optimize images for fast loading on mobile while maintaining quality. Documentation shows how to set up responsive images.

Lazy Loading for Faster Pages

Enable lazy loading on images to lower bandwidth usage and speed up load times on mobile. Plugins like Lazy Load by WP Rocket do this out of the box.

With responsive code and techniques, you can make any WordPress site’s images look great on mobile. Focus on hero images and other large, visible pictures first when optimizing.

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Making Your Content Responsive

Hardcoded pixel widths can prevent content containers like blog posts, sidebars, widgets, etc. from shrinking for mobile views.

Switching these elements to fluid percentage or em-based widths makes them responsive.

Use Percentage Widths

Change fixed pixel widths to percentages in your theme CSS. For example:

.blog-post {
  width: 80%; /* instead of 800px */

.sidebar-widget {
  width: 25%; /* instead of 300px */

This allows them to scale down on mobile while maintaining their size relationship.

Employ Max-Widths

Max-width combined with widths of 100% or close to 100% makes containers fill their parent without exceeding a maximum.

.page-content {
  max-width: 1200px;
  width: 100%;

This keeps the content section at 100% on mobile but prevents it from stretching wider than 1200px on larger screens.

Size Fonts in em Units

Using relative em units for fonts instead of pixels allows text to resize for mobile:

h2 {
  font-size: 1.8em; 

p {
  font-size: 1em;

Now headings and paragraphs size up or down based on parent elements, not fixed pixels.

Making containers fluid, sizing in percentages, and using max-widths/em units creates fully responsive content for small screens.

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Additional Tips for Mobile Optimization

Here are a few other quick tips for improving WordPress on mobile:

  • Simplify navigation menus – Keep mobile menus clean by removing less critical items. Only include need-to-have links.
  • Use click triggers – Expand hidden elements like drop-downs and mega-menus only on click rather than hover. This improves usability on touch devices.
  • Set tap targets to minimum 44px height/width – Makes menus, buttons, and links easier to tap without zooming.
  • Enable pinch/zoom on images – Allow mobile users to zoom in on images for closer inspection.
  • Test popups and overlays – Make sure any popups or overlays work well on mobile and are still easily dismissible.
  • Simplify complex content – Avoid unnecessary multimedia elements. Stick to key info.
  • Check mobile page speed – Use Google PageSpeed, Lighthouse, or WebPageTest to catch other mobile performance issues.

Keep these tips in mind in addition to the bigger fixes outlined earlier. Every bit of mobile optimization helps!

Key Takeaways and Summary

Getting a WordPress site to display correctly on mobile can seem daunting at first. But following this advice will get you there:

  • If your theme isn’t responsive, switching to a mobile-friendly theme is the best solution. Look for fluid widths, breakpoints, and responsive images.
  • Tweak your current theme’s mobile.css stylesheet to fix layout issues. Adjust container widths, image sizes, floats, etc.
  • Test plugins individually to find conflicts, then disable, update, or replace incompatible plugins.
  • Make images responsive using CSS, markup, and responsive image plugins. Lazy load images.
  • Set content container widths in percentages or ems, and use max-widths to make them fluid.
  • Simplify navigation, use click triggers, set minimum tap targets, and optimize for mobile experiences overall.

With a mix of theme edits, image adjustments, plugin conflict resolution, and other tweaks you can get WordPress looking great on phones and tablets.

The key is thoroughly testing your site on physical mobile devices as you make changes. Don’t rely only on the responsive preview in desktop browsers.

Fixing WordPress mobile display issues takes some trial and error, but it’s a crucial part of building a successful modern website. Just take it step-by-step until your site works beautifully on any device.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my WordPress theme is responsive?

Signs of a responsive theme include fluid layouts, CSS breakpoints for different screen sizes, and images/content that resize dynamically. If you resize your desktop browser down and the site stays the same, your theme is likely not responsive.

Should I create a separate mobile site instead?

Creating a dedicated mobile site used to be common, but is not the best idea today. Having a separate mobile URL with different content can hurt SEO. Responsive design allows one site to work seamlessly on all devices.

Is AMP better than regular responsive design?

Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) can improve page speed, but is not required for good mobile performance. Follow WordPress best practices for responsiveness, page optimization, etc and you can achieve similar results without AMP.

How do I test mobile-friendliness?

Physical mobile devices give the most accurate testing results. Also use Google Mobile-Friendly test, Google PageSpeed Insights, and Chrome DevTools Device Mode to catch issues. Test on both Android and iOS.

Should I just make my site width 100%?

Setting the overall site width to 100% can work but may cause overly wide content on large screens. Using max-widths and restricting page elements from expanding too far creates a better experience. Find the right balance.

What if mobile menus, tabs, accordions, etc. aren’t working?

This is usually a JavaScript issue. Test disabling plugins and switching themes to isolate the problem. Make sure jQuery is up to date. Use basic click menus if needed until you find a solution.

Why aren’t my WordPress images responsive?

WordPress requires extra code to make images responsive. Use CSS max-width as covered in this guide. Or install a plugin like Imagify to automatically generate multiple sizes. The <picture> element also helps.

Troubleshooting Specific Theme Issues

If you are still noticing mobile display problems even after applying the general fixes above, your theme’s code itself may contain bugs or flaws.

Here are some common responsive issues that originate in the theme, and how to address them:

Some themes use JavaScript or jQuery to convert the desktop menu into a mobile “hamburger” menu at certain breakpoints. If this fails and the desktop menu remains on mobile, try these tips:

  • Check if the mobile menu JavaScript file is loading properly
  • Look for any JavaScript errors on mobile that may be interfering
  • Switch to a basic inline mobile menu as a temporary workaround
  • Consider changing themes if mobile menu cannot be fixed

Elements Overflowing Containers

This happens when sidebars, images, text, or other elements break out of their parent containers on mobile screens due to fixed widths. Solutions include:

  • Make container widths fluid using percentages or viewport units
  • Set fixed pixel max-widths via CSS to stop overflow
  • Double check padding, margins, and positioning that may cause overflow
  • Edit the theme HTML structure if necessary to fix overflow issues

Mobile Columns Stacking Vertically Too Soon

When switching to single vertical columns on mobile, some themes do this prematurely resulting in too-narrow columns. To keep columns side-by-side longer before stacking:

  • Increase the browser width breakpoint where columns stack
  • Decrease column percentages so more fit beside each other
  • Use CSS media queries to fine-tune column layouts
  • Check for column float issues that may force stacking

Mobile Styles Not Cascading Properly

If padding, margins, fonts or other styles seem off on mobile, the theme’s CSS cascade may have bugs. You can try:

  • Overriding styles with more specific CSS selectors
  • Changing CSS order to load mobile stylesheets after main CSS
  • Inline styles on elements as a temporary override if needed
  • Identifying and removing conflicting CSS code

Customizer Settings Not Responsive

Some themes have Customizer options that don’t adapt for mobile, like header images or logo upload fields. This can lead to visible issues. Options include:

  • Manually edit images/logos to constrain sizes
  • Add custom CSS to override and fix responsive problems
  • Consider switching themes if Customizer does not fully support responsive

While frustrating, troubleshooting theme-specific problems like these comes with the territory of using WordPress and third-party themes. Pinpoint the culprit, then apply targeted fixes.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Creating an optimal mobile experience for WordPress requires both broad and nuanced responsive design techniques. But any site can get there with the right approach.

Follow the tips and guidelines in this guide to methodically improve your site’s mobile display:

  • Switch to a responsive mobile-friendly WordPress theme for the best foundation
  • Tweak your current theme’s stylesheet and settings to fix layout issues
  • Make images, content, and navigation properly responsive
  • Eliminate plugin conflicts and optimize performance
  • Thoroughly test on real mobile devices and diagnostically address any remaining problems

Getting WordPress to work smoothly on phones and tablets may take some trial and error. But sticking with responsive best practices will pay off in the long run with happier mobile visitors.

For further reading, explore resources like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, Moz’s Mobile Site Design Guidelines, and Smashing Magazine’s Responsive Design Course.

The mobile web isn’t going anywhere. By making your WordPress site mobile-ready now, you will be well prepared to provide an excellent experience to all your visitors, regardless of device.

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