I recently moved from Washington, DC to New York City and although I’m not new to moves, one thing stood out as being different with this one: my
reliance mobile websites and apps. Let me explain:
Whereas, three years ago I bought a GPS system to navigate me from Colorado to Northern Virginia, this year, I used various free apps on my phone for
turn-by-turn navigation. These apps are great, not only helping me navigate NYC traffic, but to guide my walking around to find the best bagel place or
a local coffee shop (like the one from which I’m writing this post).
I also found mobile websites and apps to help me:
Figure out which subways and train stations to take, with real-time updates on arrival times and transfers.
Discover which local ATMs won’t charge service fees for money withdrawals.
Read reviews of local restaurants by locals.
Change addresses for all my credit cards and magazine subscriptions (not to mention the USPS).
Three years ago, I never would have thought of doing these things on a mobile device. Now, I can’t think of doing things any other way.
I don’t think my experience is unique. In fact, many of the people our hospitals serve—patients, family members and even doctors—experience things the
As Ed Bennett says, “Patients expect more than we deliver. They want to interact with us using modern tools.”
We’re faced with needing to create ways for people to interact with us using mobile, but what’s the best way to do this?
Mobile marketers are facing this choice: Should I build an app or should I make my website mobile-friendly? Here are five things to think about while
making that choice:
One: Keep it simple
Is it easy for people to accomplish specific things on your website? Pay their bill, sign up for a seminar, make an appointment? Can they do this in a
limited number of clicks? In my experience, people visit hospital websites to perform specific actions. If it’s hard to do these things on your site
now, it won’t be better when your site is mobile. Consider building a mobile app that simplifies the task for a mobile platform (even consider creating
different apps for each individual action—donating to your foundation, making an appointment, etc.).
Two: Make it relevant
Do you have a content marketing strategy that focuses on relevant information people would want to check on a regular basis (i.e., fitness and wellness
programs, video, etc.)? If yes, then you should consider creating a mobile app to provide an easier way to interact and share this content. People
spend more time on mobile apps than mobile websites, but only if the content is relevant.
Three: Market your efforts
Are you prepared to invest marketing dollars and time to promote your mobile apps to users? Downloads don’t just happen; you have to promote the fact
you have a native app. If you don’t want to spend the time and resources letting people know about your apps, focus on making your website mobile
Four: Keep it updated
Do you have the expertise to continually improve and update your app for various mobile screens and mobile OS’s? I learned this the hard way recently
when Apple launched the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 at the same time, as well as eliminating native support for Google maps. If you don’t have technical
expertise on staff or a trusted mobile development partner, your native mobile app is only as good as the current OS. You’re better off sticking to
Five: Review your information architecture
Look at your website. Do you have multiple navigation menus on one page (or just one primary menu)? Do you have more than seven things on any
navigation menu? Does it take more than two clicks for visitors to find a doctor or locate an A-Z list of the services your hospital provides? If so,
seriously consider re-addressing the information architecture of your website before going doing anything mobile. Your patients will thank you for it.
You can read more from Chris Boyer’s blog