NOAA’s National Ocean Service Goes Responsive

Feb 6, 2014

Let’s ponder this for a moment: Maybe you live in South Florida. Maybe the weather is warm, beautiful, sunny. Maybe you’re looking forward to a few days of boating while the rest of the country battles ice storms, snow drifts and various states of emergency. (We can dream, can’t we?)

But before you venture out onto that blue paradise, you probably need a few important items to ensure smooth sailing. Like an electronic chart for navigation? Or real-time information on coastal conditions?

Easy. Just pull out your smartphone or tablet (or God forbid your laptop!) and head on over to, the multi-screen-friendly homepage for NOAA’s National Ocean Service, the nation’s ocean and coastal agency.**


NOS’s new design uses a responsive approach that is both elegant and action-oriented: Not only does it automatically resize to fit large desktop screens and a variety of tablet and smartphones, but it’s also much easier to scan and read. Most important, the new format puts the most popular NOS products and resources front and center for streamlined access from the homepage, including:

  • Quick links to nautical charts and real-time tides and currents data
  • The portal page for post-Sandy restoration projects and activities
  • The agency’s most popular Ocean Facts (So, what is the Bermuda Triangle, exactly?)
  • The latest NOS podcast on topical ocean and coastal news and issues
  • Reference page of coastal hazards with links to specific tools and information (Did you know that HABs are a real threat? NOAA’s NOS forecasts them.)

The data behind the redesign
Like those agencies and bureaus before it, NOS (and NOAA in general) is experiencing a significant increase in traffic to its webpages from visitors using mobile devices of all types. Of the 1.5 million visits the NOS homepage receives per month, 25 percent of those come from mobile users. And this figure is only expected to grow. NOS has already transferred its top-level pages to the new design, and given the increasing mobile demand, the NOS digital team will continue converting more content over time.

(P.S.: You didn’t hear this from me, but we hope to see a responsive design for the main homepage in the not-so-distant future, too. Stay tuned!)

________________________ Got questions about responsive design? Start with this helpful article. And don’t forget: you can download the latest government mobile apps 24/7 from the Apps Gallery.