The pre-orders are in, launch day is set and the Apple fanboys are lining up. On April 24 the Apple Watch will officially be available to the public.

But the fanboys aren’t the only ones watching out for this launch -- marketers are keeping their eyes on the Apple Watch too. It's billed as “an intimate and immediate communication device" which, for any marketer, suggests a goldmine of opportunities to connect with consumers on a device that is literally attached to them during most hours of the day.

Smart, Getting Smarter

The Apple Watch has the potential to take personalization and contextual relevance to the next level. It adds another device to the marketer's toolbox that can collect important data about users’ habits and preferences, to inform decisions on delivering highly tailored content at the right place and time.

With wearables like the Apple Watch, we can envision a world where the experience web comes to life. Smart devices can share valuable information with each other, draw smarter and more holistic conclusions about what consumers want, and then deliver valuable content that follows suit.

Imagine if your smart refrigerator registers that you are low on milk, automatically creates a shopping reminder on your iCal, and sends an alert straight to your Apple Watch as you’re leaving the office. The experience web is about smart devices getting smarter, and truly enhancing our lives.

Before we can get to that reality, we have to overcome a few critical barriers. For starters, smart devices don’t all “speak the same language,” which means there is no standardized, seamless way to open the lines of communication between, say, a watch and a refrigerator.

A more pressing barrier for those of us in the web content management world: how users will interact with content. The way that content is presented on the Apple Watch is different from anything we’ve seen before. The Apple Watch has no browser or keyboard. Users don’t type in URLs to get to a brand’s website, or spend time scrolling through pages to read content about that brand. Instead, tiny bits of content are pushed to the user in the form of notifications.

Learning Opportunities

Push It Real Good

This new form factor represents a new push model of the web, and it’s not something that responsive design -- an old reliable UI model when it comes to presenting content in a multi-device world -- can facilitate. For the most part, being responsive helps us cater to new screen sizes and user interaction models like touch and swipe. But it’s time to face a harsh reality: responsive design isn’t the answer in a post-browser world. It can’t facilitate a new normal where notifications are the primary form of content.

Web content management (WCM) solutions must evolve to cater to this shift in content consumption. Apple Watch users don’t have the same patience or needs as they do on a mobile device, and certainly not on a desktop. Shayne Sweeney, one of the engineering managers at Facebook said it best,

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.”

Consumers will engage mainly with short, actionable notifications and marketers will increasingly rely on design elements like cards to create that content.

As cards and notifications become a more prevalent form of content, WCM solutions must evolve and think beyond the browser. As an industry, we’ve been given an opportunity. Let’s use the introduction of the Apple Watch as a catalyst to usher in this new era of the web, discover new ways to facilitate content management and cater to the needs of a changing consumer base.  

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