Who seeks cancer information on a mobile phone? What information would they be looking for? These were some of the questions that my colleagues and I faced as we planned our strategy to help people access NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) resources anywhere, anytime, on any device.
Data from national surveys had already shown us that 40% of adults in the U.S. used mobile phones for Web access, email, and instant messaging and that African Americans and Latinos were even more likely to depend on mobile phones for Internet access.
User research made it clear that we needed to “mobilize” our patient-oriented content. Patients and their caregivers said they needed easily understandable information about cancer diagnosis, treatment, and coping with the side effects of cancer and its treatment.
Looking at our Web analytics, it was clear that users were already coming in droves to this content using mobile phones—we went from 200,000 page views from mobile devices on our desktop site in May 2011 to more than a million page views in December 2011!
Then came the inevitable question—mobile app or mobile website? The answer was really dependent on the context in which our users would find and use our content. People dealing with a health crisis are most likely to go to a search engine to find information and not to an app store. So a mobile website was the way to go!
But we had so much content for patients and their caregivers! And we knew that in the mobile context, it was even more important that we get people to the best information in the least amount of time. We had to put our content on a “diet”—carefully selecting the content that would work best in the mobile context.
With our strategy set, our cross-functional team of content managers, information architects, developers, and usability experts used an agile approach to build the mobile site that launched in February 2012. Check us out at http://m.cancer.gov!