It is probably not news to you that people use their smart phones to surf the web. According to the Pew Research Center, last year 91% of Americans had a cell phone and 57% had used their phones to access the web or their email. It’s also worth noting that there is a growing group of what Pew calls “cell-mostly Internet users,” or people that use their phones as their primary way to access the web (potentially because they do not have access to a computer). The growing use of smart phones should be a big deal to healthcare providers because 72% of Internet users looked online for health information (that number includes all devices).
So, here’s the big question: is your website responsive?
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is “a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices” (Wikipedia). As more and more people rely on their cell phones to view webpages, it has become increasingly important to make websites that incorporate RWD.
It should be noted that RWD does NOT mean building an app or a mobile version of a website. An app has to be downloaded by the user, and a mobile website is actually a separate website that is specifically designed for certain devices. The advantage of RWD is that it is a single website, it doesn’t require the user to download anything, and the content responds and resizes automatically based on the size of the screen it is on. Designmodo has an article explaining the in’s and out’s, as well as the pros and cons, of each.
The best way to experience RWD is to see it in action. If you visit Florida Hospital’s website on your different devices (phone, tablet and computer), you can see how the website changes in response to the size of the screen you are viewing it on. (If you’re reading this on a computer and don’t have access to a tablet or smartphone, you can test whether or not a website has RWD by changing the size of your browser window to make it wide or thin – simulating different screen sizes). When the screen gets small enough (smartphone-sized), you’ll notice that the layout changes completely. Big images are removed and content is simplified. By incorporating responsive design, Florida Hospital has ensured that, regardless of device, users will have a good experience.
Let’s imagine for a moment that Florida Hospital’s site wasn’t responsive:
The responsive design on the left is easy to read and presents the information visitors want to see. The non-responsive design on the right is nearly illegible. It was never intended for a cell phone’s smaller screen size.
Alternatively, Piedmont Healthcare‘s website is not responsive. Since that wouldn’t work on a phone, Piedmont developed a separate mobile website. However, instead of developing two websites, they could have just developed one that was responsive.
Nucleus routinely incorporates Responsive Web Design to serve our client’s needs. Clinics like the Center for Orthopedic & Sports Medicine use a Nucleus-developed site to teach patients how to manage their pre- and post-surgical care. Gwinnett Medical center uses their new Nucleus-developed diabetes management site to reach patients in their regional community.
Hospitals, clinics and private practices: take note. This is the future of health education. Nucleus’s clients have embraced RWD, and healthcare providers should take this opportunity to do the same.