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How the Apple Watch Changes Web Content Management

This morning, I set my alarm at 3am ET and ordered a shiny, magical new Apple Watch. The Apple Watch is the first new product from Apple since Steve Jobs passed away. It’s an important new product for Apple, as they continue to look for ways to expand revenue beyond the iPhone.

“Smart Watches” aren’t new, but as Apple always does, they are taking an emerging category and bringing it to the mass consumer market. Apple has positioned the watch as “an intimate and immediate communication device." Apple chooses words carefully, and I think intimacy is really important to Apple. This is the first device from Apple that will never be more than a few feet away from you, all the time.

From the web content management perspective, the Apple Watch changes everything.

For the last few years, we’ve been leaning on responsive design as the answer to the explosion of new customer channels like phones, tablets, watches, game consoles, etc. Responsible design was an evolutionary way to deal with the emergence of new devices + screen sizes, and new user interaction models like touch + swipe.

Responsive design worked because it relied on well-established technologies and human interfaces. But now, here comes the Apple Watch. It doesn’t have a browser. It doesn’t have a keyboard. Responsive design isn’t the answer in a post-browser world.

My colleague Dries wrote about this in his epic blog on the Big Reverse of the Web. Dries argues that we’re in the early stages of a shift to a new way of consuming content. Instead of you having to find content, content will find you. The Apple Watch is a perfect example of why a push model is going to win. The most effective way to get content to the device is to “push” it there. And the new content type we’re going to be pushing is actionable notifications.

Most of the early development on the Apple Watch is focused on solving this problem. Expedia’s chief product officer John Kim said the company was focusing mostly on itinerary-focused push notifications: “Instead of “pulling” information from websites or apps, users will want relevant information “pushed” to them at the most useful moments.

Here’s how Shayne Sweeney at Facebook puts it: “If people use their desktop computers for hours at a time and their phones for minutes at a time, we think people will use the Watch for seconds at a time.”

And American Airlines’ Kevin MacFarland puts it best: “The goal is the right information at the right time.”

Web content management systems need to expand beyond content into the new “push” world, where we’re managing new content types like notifications and interfaces like cards. Dries covers this idea extensively in his post, and I’d highly recommend everyone read it. We’re at the beginning of a radical new way to deliver and consume experiences. We must embrace new ways to reach consumers. We must get much more intelligent and contextual about what and how we deliver. Is your web content management system ready to think ahead, or are you still fighting to get that “m.dot” site launched?

Apple just changed the rules again, and this time I think its a revolution, not an evolution.

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