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The way we use the web has changed over the years and so has the technology that comes with this behavioral change. To get an address, a telephone number we simply hit up google and perform a search. 50% (1) of the time we do so, we do it via our mobile devices, on the bus, micro-breaking at work, cyber loafing on the couch at home, you name it: everywhere at anytime! This trend is so prevalent that Google has begun to boost the ratings of sites that are mobile friendly if the search was made from a mobile device. This has the net effect of penalizing sites that are not mobile friendly.
 
With this in mind, there is no way around a responsive web design when it comes to your website as healthcare provider. Of course some will say: “but, I got a mobile version of my website available”. This may solve the google penalizing problem but not the problem of the overall user experience. Think of an 11” MacBook Air getting the mobile Version of website, which does not display your content appropriately, or if the “User Agent” gets it right, the “Desktop Version” of the site, which does not fit either. So let’s drift away from those workarounds and go to the solution for of all this.
 
WHAT IS RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN? BUILDING THE HOUSE YOU LOVE TO LIVE IN!
 
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Between building a house and building a website isn’t that much of a difference considering the following points. The foundation (Server Environment) should stand always on solid ground, is vital for the static of the building (Performance) and gives it the dimensions for the frame (Content) that defines the design (Frontend) of the building. The facade, once concepted is the distinctive fingerprint which like almost every other  step in the design of the building before is immutable (2).
 
Of Course once build in one place, in most cases, buildings do not move, go on vacation, have a bad reception or get core updates but still there is a way, architecture can respond to their environment.
 
RESPONSIVE ARCHITECTURE
 
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Responsive architecture is an evolving field of architectural practice and research. Responsive architectures are measuring actual environmental conditions (via sensors) to enable buildings to adapt their form, shape, color or character responsively (via actuators) e.g. Climate adaptive building shell (CABS). And this is pretty much what responsive web design is doing.
 
It is the approach that suggests that a website design should respond to screen size, platform and orientation. Still sounding simple, responsive web design is not just about adjustable screen resolutions nor automatically resizable images. It’s a way of thinking about design. The idea is nothing new. Around 2009 responsive web design emerged and grew fast to a standard in modern web design, even though the techniques may vary, it is still under ongoing development.
 

Architects can’t force people to connect, it can only plan the crossing points, remove barriers and make the meeting places useful and attractive. – Denise Scott, Architect

 
WHAT ABOUT A MOBILE VERSION OF MY WEBSITE?
 
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Mobile websites or mobile apps used as static versions of websites popped up shortly after the first appearance of mobile devices capable of displaying web content in so called mobile browsers. In the beginning there were Blackberrys and iPhones and Companies started to think about optimizing web Content for the Customers to enhance their Experience browsing their website on those devices (Of course with minimized, so called „optimized“ content). Of course the mobile market exploded and with it the idea of creating a solution for every single device. Why should you treat mobile users different than desktop users? Delivering different content – unthinkable these days.
 
HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS, WHAT ABOUT YOUR WEBSITE?
 
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As your Users are future Patients and the purpose of your website is to inform about your services and even attach them to you, a responsive designed website is mandatory. But let’s have a closer look on the status quo.
 
We reviewed 50 austrian healthcare provider, listed on docfinder.at, each of em part of the top 10 in their specific field of expertise (29.02.2016):
 

Responsive Web Design Review 02/16

 
The biggest group in this review is the group of healthcare professionals that have no website available for their patients (19 or 38%), followed by the group of healthcare websites that are not  responsive or mobile optimized (17 or 34%) followed by the group of websites that provide responsive web design (14 or 28%).
 
Only 28% of the listed healthcare professionals offer their users a state of the art website to display their services on the internet.
 
So, if you haven’t made your website responsive yet, you need to very quick. It’s the standard of the web we use every day and users expect a great mobile experience everytime they visit a website; in case you can’t offer them that, they will leave your website immediately.


 

 

This article was written by Michael Marlovics for a series on “web design for healthcare providers” over at goininternational.eu.

Footnotes

1) http://www.comscore.com/USMobileAppReport
2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsive_architecture

Cover Photo: AS12-50-7369, Apollo 12 Hasselblad image from film magazine 50/Q – Orbital

i’m designer-slash-developer-slash-one-man-army from vienna/austria. when i’m not at the playground with my kids, i’m working on something digital, publishing books over at text/rahmen, checking out bars for zigarreinwien, play the drums for nshctl or just read a book. All those beautiful cover-photos by http://deathtothestockphoto.com and Project Apollo Archive