A Responsive Design Retrofit for Healthcare

Thanks to HCIC’s Backstage Pass (a webinar series for those unable to attend HCIC), I recently watched Pamela Riddell’s “Responsive Retrofit: A Desktop Down Approach” presentation that she gave at last year’s conference. Pamela discussed how Lehigh Valley Health Network adapted their newly redesigned website for mobile by using responsive design. (LVHN is a Nucleus client.)

LVHN's website, responsively adjusted for a smartphone's smaller screen.
LVHN’s website.

Responsive design is a hot topic right now. We’ve already written about why responsive design is important for healthcare. A new report from comScore shows that 80% of Internet users now use a smartphone to search for content online. “The days of desktop dominance are over,” the report declares. It’s not an option anymore; it’s imperative that businesses and organizations design websites with their mobile users in mind.

If you’re not convinced you need to create a functional mobile experience for your website’s users, this news might change your mind: Google is going to change their search algorithm on April 21, 2015. Google wrote on their official blog that they will be “expanding [their] use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” In other words, it looks like websites that aren’t mobile-friendly will take a hit in their search result rankings after the update.

By incorporating responsive design into their website, LVHN is making an important move to stay relevant and accommodate all of their users. According to Pamela, their site’s mobile users have increased each year (4% of traffic in 2004, 20% in 2013, and 32% in 2014 after the site went responsive). There’s no doubt that other health systems and hospitals are experiencing similar increases in mobile traffic. Nucleus recognized the need for health care providers to adopt responsive design early on. We’ve created several responsive patient education websites, including a diabetes education portal for Gwinnett Medical Center and Health Journey Support for AstraZeneca US.

Designing a website, then going back and retrofitting it to be responsive, is not ideal; it is clearly preferable to build responsive design into a website from the very beginning. What LVHN’s experience demonstrates is that it can still be done; it just takes hard work and perseverance through the tough spots.

In her presentation, Pamela offered advice for other health systems looking to retroactively implement responsive design. Among the tips she mentioned, some key points included: Assembling the right team (LVHN faced significant delays when things didn’t work out with the original developer); using the right tools (like Google Analytics); optimizing the space available on mobile screens (by using recognizable icons like the navigation “hamburger”); and prioritizing your content to help decide what gets converted to the responsive format first. Her last bit of advice was the most important: Hang in there, and learn from your mistakes.





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