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A “Responsive” Look at Consumer Healthcare Information

Why does a consumer healthcare website need to be responsive? First, let’s examine what we already know about responsive web design and mobile usage.
Responsive design is really quite simple. It allows a web property to produce a similar user experience regardless of the platform, from desktop to tablet and smartphone. Since the very beginning of the web, we have developed content strategies and interfaces rooted squarely around the desktop user. But, emphasis should be shifting to the tablets and smartphones. According to Pew Internet, 64% of American adults own a smartphone, and in the last year alone, the number of mobile searches has doubled from roughly 30% to just more than 60%. At some point, mobile devices will become the way users experience the Internet. It’s no wonder Google recently updated their Mobile Search Algorithm. This algorithm update gives search result preference to sites rendered in responsive design and are mobile-friendly. Sites not optimized for mobile are penalized with lower rankings and, in some cases, become completely invisible in mobile search results.

So, why is mobile really important to healthcare providers? Right now, 76% of potential patients turn to medical websites for healthcare and provider information. What’s more, 44% of those healthcare consumers went on to schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider. This fact alone points to the absolute importance of providing an engaging mobile experience; if a potential patient has to switch platforms to reach you, that’s an additional—and unnecessary—barrier.

More users are using mobile devices as their dominant or only way to access the web. Despite the introduction of responsive design, desktop is (mistakenly) the primary focus, and designs are “scaled it down” to fit mobile devices. The numbers tell us this process is backwards. In fact, with all digital communications, the focus should be first on the mobile experience, then “scaling it up” to desktop. When you truly take a “mobile-first” stance by putting the focus on the small screen and engaging with that user, you are poised for success. Mobile is no longer something we need to adapt content and strategy for. It is the strategy.

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