Responsive Web design
The average person checks their smartphone almost 150 times each day. If you think that’s hard to believe, try this: Worldwide, there are more smartphones being activated every second than babies being born. A number of those smartphone users are patients and visitors from within your community, all of whom have preferred devices between Apple®, Android®, Blackberry® and Windows® options. And don’t forget about all of the tablet variations, either.There’s a distinct difference between websites optimized for mobile devices and those that aren’t. Sites optimized for smartphones and tablets are much easier to use on those devices than a desktop site that isn’t. Among mobile users, more than 60 percent are likely to leave if they don’t find what they’re looking for right away on a mobile site and 74 percent are more likely to return to that site in the future if it is optimized for mobile viewing.

The trick has been figuring out how to make Web pages fit the dimension and screen resolution for each device. Enter Responsive Web design, or RWD, a new innovation that helps Web content fit onto whichever screen that views it.

Mobile optimization matters
Smartphones and tablets have become popular because of how much they ease day-to-day tasks. Communication via email, instant message and social networks are their primary draw, but mobile devices also make traditional errands more efficient, things like arranging appointments and making bill payments. Can your patients and clients do those things on your website, too? More importantly, can they do those things on your website with their chosen mobile devices?

Is your website optimized for mobile devices like the smartphones and tablets your patients and visitors are using? If not, below are some mobile options you may want to explore:

  • Mobile applications, or apps, use capabilities specific to a phone or mobile device (like GPS or camera) to help a program function.
  • Mobile templates, as the name suggests, are quick and easy layouts that push or pull site content to fit the screen of whichever device is accessing it.
  • Mobile websites require a modified URL and show less aesthetic content in order to meet the most important needs of a mobile visitor.

Then there’s RWD, which creates a webpage that automatically and seamlessly meets the screen dimensions and resolutions of whichever device your clients are using. Responsive Web design stands out from the other options; it is so effective that it has become Google’s® recommended configuration.
Responsive Web design in healthcare
If you’d like to make RWD a reality for your healthcare organization, you’re going to have to do some digging. Ask your internal Web developers or an outside consulting firm for assistance if you need to and keep these in mind:

  • What’s the main demographic of your target audience? Younger people tend to be more tech savvy than older generations so the younger your audience the more likely they are to have smartphones and tablets they’ll use to access your site.
  • What are people using your website for? Basic analytics tools like Google® Analytics can help you see how site visitors are behaving once they get to your page. If they’re flooding your page to use only one functionality, like accessing your hours of operation or driving directions, RWD probably isn’t the right answer for you.

Responsive Web design is an option that takes slightly longer to develop (and more financial resources) up front, but it’s reliable and saves you from site maintenance down the road.

Gaining a response from responsive
Once you make the move to mobile and RWD, congratulations! Don’t let that effort go unnoticed. Invite patients and visitors to give it a go so they know they can access you easily going forward:

  • Hang door signs behind appointment or patient room doors that picture your new site on a mobile device.
  • Place a banner in the lobby. Prominently place your URL and then show a screen shot of what the new home page looks like displayed on a computer, tablet and cellphone–letting patients know visually that the website can be accessed from any device.
  • Have the nursing staff give patients syringe pens with the message that they can reference their immunization records on your website.
  • Ask lobby greeters and administrative staff to make a friendly mention of the new site by handing out Post-it® Notes shaped like cell phones.
  • If relevant, encourage patients to register for online bill payments with a clear call to action printed on a sticker that is stuck to each paper bill mailed out.

Bottom line: Mobile matters. Of the mobile options, RWD is becoming the most recommended and user-friendly. Responsive Web design is an opportunity to connect with your patients, visitors and the people that care about them. It’s also an opportunity to show that you care about them, too.

2012 Mobile Marketing.” Marketing Sherpa, Nov. 2012. Web. 20 Dec. 2012.

Waugh, Rob. “Resistance Is Futile! More Androids Are Activated Every Day than Babies Are Born.” CES 2012: More Androids Are Activated Every Day than Babies Are Born | Mail Online. Daily Mail Online, 13 Jan. 2012. Web. 20 Dec. 2012.

Google Mobile Ads Blog.” Mobile-friendly Sites Turn Visitors into Customers –. Google, 25 Sept. 2012. Web. 13 Jan. 2013.

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