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Giving FDA.gov Visitors a New Mobile Experience

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If you use your smartphone or tablet to visit the FDA.gov website, you're not alone. In the last 12 months, the number of mobile visits to FDA.gov has grown from 12.5 percent to 24 percent. And when we asked FDA.gov visitors if they would like to use a mobile device to access the website, 40 percent said "yes."

That's one of the reasons why FDA just launched a new version of its website that works well with the most popular mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, while continuing to support traditional desktop and laptop computers. But it's not the only reason.

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Working Well with Mobile Devices

"These days, people are on the go. They want to get web information anytime and anyplace, using the devices that they carry with them," said Chris Mulieri, director of FDA's web and digital media staff. "They don't want to see a huge page that doesn't fit their screen. And, user research shows that they don't want a separate mobile site with a subset of content."

Accordingly, FDA decided to take a "one-site, many device" approach to providing all users with the best possible viewing experience. That approach, called responsive design, keeps things simple for users. If you look at the FDA.gov site on a tablet, the page adjusts to your screen. If you look at the same page on a smartphone, the page adjusts to that screen as well. Plus, you don't have to switch between a smaller mobile site and the full desktop site.

"FDA.gov has a wealth of important information," says Associate Commissioner for External Affairs Virginia Cox, J.D. "Consumers know they can trust information made available by FDA and we have a responsibility to take innovative steps to make the information easier to retrieve."

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Easy Access to the Most Popular Content

"We know that, compared with desktop visitors, our mobile visitors spend a lot less time trying to navigate around pages," said Mulieri. "That's one of the reasons why we've provided quick and easy ways to get to our most popular content for this first phase of our mobile approach."

FDA defines "most popular content" using a number of sources, such as visitor feedback, survey data, and web analytics (an analysis of website traffic). This content includes:

  • Recalls of food, drugs, pet food, cosmetics, medical devices, and other products that FDA regulates
  • Safety alerts for human medical products, including drugs, medical devices, and dietary supplements
  • Timely and easy-to-read Consumer Update articles on FDA activities and regulated products
  • The latest news and FDA Voice blog posts

When you look at FDA.gov home page on a smartphone, you'll notice new buttons and boxes that put this popular content front and center. You'll also see the standard mobile menu button (some people call it a "hamburger") that shows you all of the main navigation topics with one click.

The new mobile format also makes it much easier for people to tell FDA about a problem with a product that the agency regulates. On a mobile device, there's a new button for "Report an Adverse Event" that takes you directly to an online form that you can fill out and submit quickly.

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Next Steps: An Ongoing Process

FDA's approach to mobile involves a series of steps – and an ongoing commitment to improving our customer's web experience. Now that the most popular content is mobile friendly, FDA will focus on its long term goal of implementing responsive design across the entire site over the next year.

So, as you continue to visit FDA.gov for everything from recalls to medical treatments to new regulations, you will see more and more information that works for you—and your mobile device.

This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Nov. 19, 2013

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Page Last Updated: 11/19/2013
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