Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have been called the “secret sauce” for digital services. They help open information (content and data) so it can be reused inside and outside of government. Agencies like the CDC have leveraged API’s to build Mobile Gov. The Digital Services Innovation Center is helping agencies build out APIs by building out knowledge. Agencies can use the API Toolkit to learn API basics and see examples of APIs in government.
Open Content Management
To support infrastructure and content needs across the federal government, the Digital Services Innovation Center developed a CMS toolkit with resources to help agencies choose, design and migrate to a content management system (CMS). A CMS not only helps agencies efficiently manage their online content and create mobile products, but also can help them move to an open content model, making it easier for people to find, share, use, and re-use government information. And, for agencies who need a government policy-compliant platform and hosting solution, the Digital Services Innovation Center alpha launched sites.usa.gov, an enterprise-ready CMS service in the cloud and they’re happy to help you get started.
Mobile First is a form of mobile strategy that posits any content or application that an agency creates, should be done with a mobile first mentality. Agencies should design all mobile products with accessibility in mind and use these practices when testing. Check out the webinar we hosted that explains a proper Mobile First approach and then read the National Cancer Institute’s mobile first approach.
Mobile App vs. Mobile Web
With existing services many agencies ask themselves where to start–Mobile apps or Mobile web? In late 2011, we hosted a Mobile Apps Versus Mobile Web webinar where the Department of Labor and Transportation Security Administration debated this question and came to the answer that agencies should strive to implement both.
Mobile Web/Responsive Design, Web Apps & Native Apps
Since that webinar we’ve learned that mobile implementation is not a clear cut decision between mobile web vs. mobile app and that mobile products fall in a continuum between mobile web and native. New mobile implementations like responsive design and others are explained below.
- Mobile Web–Instead of creating a mobile website different than the traditional agency website, a popular implementation of mobile web is responsive design which allows a website to adjust to the size of any device’s screen.
- Mobile Web Apps– One new implementation we are seeing are mobile websites that are responsive but offer some sort of advanced functionality. An example is NIH’s MyDS web app which allows users to document and store their dietary supplement intake from anytime and anywhere.
- Native Apps– We are seeing various mobile device functionalities being utilized on various mobile platforms. For some examples of good government native apps, check out MyTSA, IRS2Go, Eyenote, DOL LaborStats, and USDA’s AskKaren.
In the U.S., there are four mobile platforms for developing mobile apps–Blackberry, iOS/Apple, GooglePlay/Android, Windows Phone.
We’ll build on our recent work to create great user experiences on government produced mobile products. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping out!