Understanding what your target audience is looking for online and delivering it effectively is paramount to a positive user experience. Not only is it important to the experience but it will also make or break the success of any message you are delivering to your target audience. You can start by using metrics, surveys, live interview sessions, or beta testing to figure out the best way to set up your online message. If you can take user data and combine it with a flexible online experience real time, your success rate will increase significantly. This is where responsive web design merged with your overall strategy comes to life.
Responsive web design is all about providing the most optimal experience for your end user. In the development sense it’s a combination of flexible layouts, imagery, and CSS media queries. In the world we live in right now, that typically points to mobile strategy when creating the user experience. Whether it’s a laptop, desktop, smartphone, or tablet the interface should adjust accordingly for the screen real estate. If you’re doing this correctly the capabilities of the device being used are exploited for the users benefit. Mobile content needs to be concise, valuable, and to the point. For example, find out the top three things your user wants and give that to them right up front. You can always allow for an entry way into the full desktop experience. This is well worth careful thought and planning with half of the adult US population owning a smartphone.
With all this being said, the question is how could this type of design impact the distribution of important healthcare content. That goes for both the patient and the physician. There is an overwhelming amount of this information available online, but what if there is a more specific story to tell. It could be in regards to an obscure disease, or simply a disease state that is misunderstood. If you start with that lens you can evolve to a responsive web design approach that will give a respective user some real value as it pertains to healthcare. Healthcare related websites are clearly using this type of lens when defining how to approach mobile and responsive web design.
Two Approaches to Know
To break this down a bit further, there are 2 approaches when it comes to mobile that are worth mentioning. There is the standalone mobile site, and the responsive mobile site.
The standalone mobile site will typically be more direct with less information up front. It is staged with a mobile URL such as m.webmd.com. If you come to a mobile responsive web design it takes the entire desktop website and reconfigures on the fly. You end up with all the content from the desktop site, but just presented in a way that leverages the mobile interface. This type of website can be found with the same URL as the desktop website.
What does that look like in the pharma and healthcare information space? Here are a couple effective approaches to healthcare information that uses the principles of Responsive Web Design, and mobile strategy.
Drugs.com uses responsive web design principles: www.drugs.com
WebMD uses device direction to a mobile specific website: m.webmd.com.
There is a debate right now as to what the best strategy is when it comes to responsive web design. Should you use a mobile only optimized website, or a web responsive approach? It really depends on your target goals, audience, and the type of content your providing. If you feel that your audience is limited in time, you may want a very simple direct mobile website. If you are a Drugs.com with lots of information that requires access at all times it lends itself to responsive web design.
Healthcare information is using a number of paths when defining this strategy. The essence of the approach will certainly have a great impact on pharma and healthcare information the more it evolves. It will ultimately define the way people want to consume all types of healthcare information.