Wearables and Glanceable Content | Blue ZenithMobile hardware companies such as Samsung, Motorola and LG are releasing smartwatches, and Apple recently announced it will soon be releasing the Apple Watch. Even Google is preparing to release a consumer version of their popular and controversial Google Glass wearable computer. As the excitement and imaginations of consumers are focused on this new category of networked products, it is important to begin preparing your online properties and marketing content for a “glanceable” future.

What Exactly Is Glanceable Content?

Glanceable content is digital content and messaging that can be either assessed or consumed “at a glance”. While stationed at a laptop or desktop computer, or even sitting in bed or on a couch with a tablet, it is easy to stay focused for significant lengths of time – long form content on websites and blogs can be read and studied at a leisurely pace, eBooks and other digital media can be comfortably read and consumed, and emails, blog posts, and social media content can be consumed on a bus, in the back of a cab, or on a lunch break with a smartphone or tablet. Wearables, however, are a different story – smart watch screens are usually less than 2 inches in size, and no one wants to spend more than a few seconds reading content on a screen that small. At this early stage in the development of wearables as consumer devices, optimal content for wearables should be brief, to the point and extremely easy to process at a glance – hence, glanceable content.

Wearable Digital Devices

While wearable computers may be new, the fundamentals of glanceable content are certainly not. Twitter content, or tweets, have always been restricted to 140 characters, and many consumers are now used to quickly scrolling through Twitter and other social media feeds, seeking out interesting and relevant content. Even before the advent of social media, savvy Web users were able to quickly scan through content via Rich Site Summary (RSS) feeds, which aggregates content from websites and blogs into a stream. Before the Internet and throughout the last century, advertisers created logos, headlines and advertising copy for news tickers, billboards, clothing and other physical signage, and for hundreds of years flags and banners have included crests and symbols that are designed to be glanceable from a distance on the ocean, road and battlefield.

Producing Glanceable Content

To increase social media conversion and shares, social media updates, linked article headlines and images are all increasingly being tailored for “glanceability”, and this attention to formatting will pay off when content is consumed on a wearable computer. The primary requirement for glanceable content is that the content in question be both quickly and accurately consumed in a matter of seconds. If your message, headline or image leaves a viewer perplexed or confused, it will fail. Is the content straightforward, with an easily-understood message? Are the words and phrases you’re using both simple to read and consume, but adequate enough to fully convey your intended message? Finally, is your content “punchy” enough to grab a reader’s attention among a stream of similar content? If you are not an experienced copy writer, it may be necessary to read and edit the same headline or bit of content over and over again, repeating the process until the content has been sufficiently refined. If your content includes digital media, it is important to ensure that the images are legible on a very small screen.

Preparing For A Wearable Future

Although personal wearable computers are not yet common among the general public, there are a number of things your business can do to ensure you are ready and prepared for a wearable future.

First, it is a good idea to make sure that an RSS feed is available for your blog or any sections of your website that feature dynamic content, as RSS provides an optimal method for easily delivering content to wearable devices. Content Management Systems (CMS) and blogging platforms have always included RSS functionality.

Second, it is important to ensure that your CMS and blogging platforms are properly formatting your dynamic content to include headlines, summaries and preview images. If you are already posting content to Facebook or Twitter, either directly through your blog or through a third-party social media publishing platform such as Hootsuite, you should be able to review your existing content to ensure that these glanceable aspects of your posts are being processed and formatted correctly. If not, your content may incomplete or even illegible on a wearable device.