The internet has changed and continues to change how the American public receives information and interacts with the government. At AIDS.gov we are constantly adapting to the changing environment so we can use the most appropriate technology available to reach our diverse audiences. Recently, the federal government ushered us into this new era with the release of the Digital Government Strategy. A key element of the strategy is to allow for federal data and information to be shared anytime, anywhere, on any device.
Federal CIO Steve Van Roekel’s emphasis on making government “more efficient and able to adapt to inevitable changes in technology” typifies the ideals we have worked towards on the AIDS.gov project. We were pleased to see that the Digital Government Strategy listed responsive web design as a new standard or solution for addressing the inevitable changes in technology that will occur. Responsive web design is a technique that allows content to adjust to the size of the device that accesses the information. Phones, tablets, desktop computers, TV’s, and video game consoles all have different capabilities related to how content is displayed. Using responsive web design, Federal services can be designed to meet the needs of a broad audience. For an example of responsive web design, look at the new AIDS.gov on a smart phone and then on your desktop.
True to the principles of the Digital Government Strategy, AIDS.gov as a project has incorporated more services that are optimized for mobile over the past few years. We launched in 2006, began podcasting and using social media in 2007 and 2008, released the AIDS.gov HIV/AIDS Prevention and Service Provider Locator in 2009, launched a mobile website in 2010, and optimized additional services for mobile in 2011, including the Locator API.
While AIDS.gov has built new services and worked to keep up with the rapidly changing mobile landscape, we have learned that there are no easy or one-size-fits-all solutions that address the multiplying complexity of technological progress. We have learned that there are principles that can be applied to projects to ensure that our content and data can be reused and repurposed, across social media, new platforms, and the ever expanding class of devices and platforms that can now access web-based information.
Responsive web design represents the best way for us to achieve the goal of future friendly web resources built for the HIV/AIDS community. Building AIDS.gov responsively allows us to focus on the goal of ensuring any person, anywhere, in any situation and on any device can access basic HIV information, Federal HIV prevention resources and services, and the latest news on the Federal government’s response in the fight against HIV/AIDS.