Every year we compile our top five most popular webinars, blog posts and tweets to see what resonated with healthcare marketers. This year’s hottest topics included search engine optimization, filling physician schedules, social media marketing and results from our eHealth Survey. Judging by these trends it’s pretty safe to say that content marketing will continue to be an area of focus for healthcare marketers in 2015. Geonetric will be here to help out with everything healthcare web strategy throughout 2015. Stay up to date by coming back to our blog, following us on Twitter or subscribing to our monthly newsletter.
It’s no secret that mobile traffic is up significantly. After all, many of you are probably reading this very blog with some sort of mobile device. Even if you’re not, it’s probably within arm’s reach!
Google recently announced that they will start letting users know which pages in the search results appear to be mobile-friendly. It’s a useful feature that I think will really help users know which results to choose when doing a search.
According to Google, pages may be marked “mobile-friendly” if they avoid using technology such as Flash (which isn’t very friendly to mobile devices), has design and content elements that size appropriately for such devices (responsive design, anyone?) and they may even detect how far apart links are from each other.
With the number of mobile-connected devices projected to exceed the world’s population by the end of 2014, it’s more important than ever to have a Web presence that can accommodate mobile users. And since 31% of cell phone owners, and 52% of smartphone owners, have used their phone to look up health or medical information, healthcare organizations need to make their online experience seamless regardless of what type of mobile device is trying to access their information.
Pella Regional Health Center wanted to ensure visitors had access to their entire site, not just a select subset. Enter responsive design. It enables organizations to build and maintain one site that adapts automatically to the capabilities of the device being used. Essentially future-proofing an organization’s website since it presents the best user experience possible whether the Web visitor is accessing the single site from a desktop, tablet, mobile device or even a mobile-enabled refrigerator.
On your website, how do you decide where to place your most important content? On a desktop it’s fairly easy because we know people use the “T” pattern to skim content. If you are like a lot of our clients, you use side panels and place them on your pages accordingly. But what happens to those panels on a responsive site?
If you haven’t given this much thought – now would be a good time to start. Panels on sites using responsive design can fall to the very bottom of the page when a mobile device is used. And this can lessen the effectiveness of your calls to action.
Apple’s much-debated mobile operating system refresh has been in our hands for a few days. While there has been a lot of commentary about the new interface, it’s come mostly from hardcore early adopter-types. I’ve been curious about how more casual users would take to the new changes, so I did a quick poll of iOS users around the office to get their thoughts and first impressions. Here’s what I heard:
We’ve been talking about Responsive Design for a long time. In truth, Geonetric was one of the first healthcare Web firms to promote the benefits of this approach in our industry. With the explosion of new devices, form factors, and formats like Windows 8’s touchscreen computers and convertible laptop/tablets, it’s more important than ever to evolve our thinking from “the mobile Web” to a “Whole Web” philosophy.
The initial goal of Responsive Design was simply to deliver all of the content and functionality on our websites to the mobile audience. And it accomplished that. Adobe Flash® features went out the window. Mouse-over menus were outfitted with touchscreen friendly navigation support. And content was prioritized to keep the most important items visible as screens got smaller and smaller.
With the dramatic rise of mobile-enabled devices, healthcare marketers are looking for new ways to connect with mobile users. Stand-alone mobile sites and mobile apps just aren’t cutting it.
It’s time to consider a whole new approach to the mobile Web. One that is much more efficient for healthcare marketers to maintain and improves the mobile experience for visitors to your website.
It’s called responsive design.
Responsive design enables a website to automatically adjust to the device being used. Every site visitor has an optimal experience regardless of whether they are accessing the website with a Smartphone, tablet or on a desktop computer.
Geonetric’s Vice President Ben Dillon shares how Cone Health and Rush-Copley Medical Center leverage responsive design in his latest article “Connecting With Mobile Users: Responsive Design Offers a New Approach” which appeared in Issue 2, 2013 of the Healthcare Strategy Alert! published by the Forum for Healthcare Strategists.
Check out the article and see how responsive design helped these healthcare organizations meet their online goals.
Concord Hospital partnered with Geonetric to take their website to the next level. Concord Hospital wanted a site that would engage the community with enhanced functionality and content – built on a responsive platform the new site does just that. The Concord Hospital team jumped in with both feet and worked diligently to make sure the site would meet the needs of the hospital’s growing mobile market by providing an optimal viewing experience for all site visitors, no matter what device they are using to access the site.
In addition to promoting the hospital’s Centers of Excellence, the website takes advantage of VitalSite SmartPanels to cross promote events, providers and locations. This functionality provides the visitor with a quick link to providers and locations that are tied to a key service line. The new website also features the Healthwise health library, which provides health information, decision points and a symptom checker.
Sure, smartphone and tablets are increasingly becoming our go-to devices for browsing the Internet. The average Geonetric client has more than 20% visits to their website coming from mobile devices today and will likely clear the 25% level by mid-year.
So, why should we stop talking about it?
We’ve had increasingly fuzzy categories in the mobile space for a while now. Phones are getting so large that they barely fit in your hand. A greater range of tablet sizes have made some “tablets” barely larger than some “phones.”
More than that, though, Windows 8 has hit the scene.
There’s so much change happening right now in Web design that I have visions of designers in therapy sessions.
“You’ve got to let things go, Bill! You have baggage and it’s holding you back,” the therapist quacks. “It’s time – move on. Responsive Web is here. It’s not Y2K anymore.”
“But, what about control?” I question. “I’m used to being in control. Isn’t responsive design trying to strip this from me?”
“It’s not about control, Bill. You need to revisit your Web design past,” he croons. “Remember, the Web is fluid and does not like to be contained.”
This is the mantra we all must embrace. The Web is fluid. It does not like to be contained.
Let’s Shed Some Baggage Together – Don’t Fear the Scroll
For years we thought all good content must be above the fold – anything of importance should be at the top of the page, visible on the monitor.
I’ve got some news for you. You already have a mobile site. Whether you think about it as mobile or not, the site your hospital has right now is being accessed by smartphones and tablets.
What kind of experience are those site visitors having?
If you’re not sure, it’s time to make mobile a priority. You have two main options for presenting online content to your growing mobile market. The first option is to create a mobile-optimized site that is separate from your main website. The second option is to have one website built using responsive design, which allows it to adapt to different screen sizes.
Both options are better than not having any mobile-optimized presence; but choosing one path for your mobile future is important.
Rush-Copley Medical Center’s new website design was strongly influenced by Rush-Copley’s marketing goal to fill their physicians’ calendars with new patients. On the home page, Rush-Copley’s doctors’ are front and center – making it easy for patients to get to know them. And with strong calls to action, it’s easier than ever for site visitors to schedule an appointment.
Taking a nod from retail designs, Rush-Copley’s new homepage is broken into sections, allowing many topics to be presented while keeping the design clean and uncluttered. It takes advantage of the fact that 18.02% of Rush-Copley site visitors are accessing the site through smartphones and tablets. The layout encourages swiping and it is completely responsive – so it will reformat to look amazing on any device without panning and zooming.