Is it time to stop publishing web pages?

Anil Dash hits the nail on the head once more in a recent post entitled Stop Publishing Web Pages.

And he’s right, of course, when he observes:

Most users on the web spend most of their time in apps. The most popular of those apps, like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Tumblr and others, are primarily focused on a single, simple stream that offers a river of news which users can easily scroll through, skim over, and click on to read in more depth.

Most media companies on the web spend all of their effort putting content into content management systems which publish pages. These pages work essentially the same way that pages have worked since the beginning of the web, with a single article or post living at a particular address, and then tons of navigation and cruft (and, usually, advertisements) surrounding that article.

Users have decided they want streams, but most media companies are insisting on publishing more and more pages. And the systems which publish the web are designed to keep making pages, not to make customized streams.

It’s time to stop publishing web pages.

My thoughts are that regardless as to what publishers do, many people already consume content in streams by simply using publisher’s RSS feeds in the app of their choice (mine is Reeder), or by following the relevant accounts on Twitter (the Guardian, for example, has a separate account for each of its main sections, e.g. @mediaguardian, @guardianbooks, @guardiantech etc).

It feels a bit like publishers are making their most loyal visitors create a hack to consume their content in the way they’d like.

As the co-founder of Respond do I have a vested interest in this? Well yes, because one of the recommendations Anil makes is that publishers should: “Insert your advertising into those streams using the same formats and considerations that you use for your own content.” Of course large form ads don’t work very well in streams, but small relevant buttons that lead to full screen creatives when clicked? Well, I’d argue they are perfect for it.

Read Anil’s article in full here, and check this response by Richard Macmanus in ReadWriteWeb.

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Is it time to stop publishing web pages?