With the NIEHS responsive web site capability, the landscape changes, but the message comes across in its entirety. Sizes shown above range from a 1024-pixel wide desktop monitor screen (l) to a 244-pixel wide cell phone display (r).
Graphic: Joe Poccia
Like it or not, mobile devices are taking over world communication and organizations that want to get their messages out are having to adapt. Mobile industry estimates suggest that, in the not too distant future, nearly everyone in the world will communicate through cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices.
NIEHS took a big step forward recently by launching a redesigned public web site at www.niehs.nih.gov that is easily viewed and navigated on a broad variety of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This new responsive web design gives the institute a distinct advantage in its efforts to reach the billions of people worldwide who experience the web on a small screen—and may not use or even have access to a desktop computer.
“Our responsive web site will help us meet the environmental health needs of a changing world,” said NIEHS Communications Director Christine Flowers. “We’re one of the first organizations of our kind to address this communications challenge.” While people everywhere are going mobile, she added, the growth is greatest in the developing countries where NIEHS global environmental health research is especially relevant.
Flowers credits her team, including NIEHS web manager Cheryl Thompson, digital information specialist Joe Poccia and information technology specialist Sharon Hite for their leadership and technical expertise in completing the challenging project.
To experience how much a responsive web site changes the landscape for visitors to NIEHS public web pages, it’s helpful to see how the pages appear on different devices. While the content remains the same, whether it’s accessed on a 27-inch desktop screen or 2.44-inch wide mobile display, the arrangement changes automatically for optimal viewing.
Instead of simply shrinking a web page to fit a screen—much the way widescreen films are truncated to fit the standard television screen—the NIEHS responsive web site is capable of reformatting the page for mobile devices, to retain virtually all the information seen on a desktop monitor.
According to Thompson, the majority of the public web site is now available in responsive format; the remaining public pages, such as the Environmental Factor newsletter and Kids’ Pages, are in development.—Eddy Ball