RSS usability (again)

Robert is getting aggravated (aggregated?) by all the various RSS subscription logos cropping up everywhere.

I have all the logos on my blog (or a lot at least). Why? Because the vast majority of
those that use RSS don’t event know it
. I agree with Kevin here.

I use the generic XML logo for
the RSS feed plus the ‘My MSN’ and ‘MY Yahoo’  etc. icons for the vast
majority of RSS subscribers that see the syndicated world as a ‘my’
application. I even have a 'What is RSS?' link for the newbs.

This is a problem though and is already NOT solved as some suggest: saying IE7 will fix it is not the solution.

What would Jakob Nielsen say? Very little so far. So I ask again: Jacob Nielsen: what about RSS?

On the subject of RSS usability, here's a good article on the subject (have a read, because the above issue won't get solved for ages).

Comments (3)

  1. J Wynia says:

    I think that this is much like the facination with "Bookmark this page" links a few years ago. Everyone’s sort of trying to force it to happen. And articles like the one you link are using it transparently. Personally, I hit that point myself recently in that if a site doesn’t have autodiscovery set up so that my "Subscribe to site" bookmarklet can just "take care of it", I don’t bother even looking for the orange xml button.

    Users don’t care about RSS any more than they care about HTML. They want to "read any new content that comes from this site" or "keep up with this site", etc. The same is true of social bookmarking. THe real intent of most users there is that they want to "remember this so that I can find it again".

  2. Jim W. says:

    Gotta love the ongoing RSS usability debate!

    The new feed-aware browsers don’t solve this problem.  Their RSS features are anemic at best.  The new IE7 beta and Firefox do discover feeds and they do add them to favorites, but they don’t compare at all to tools like Bloglines, My Yahoo!, Google Reader, NewsGator, etc.

    Millions of bloggers don’t even have a subscribe button on their page.  Others burn up their real-estate by adding piles of subscribe buttons for every tool they can imagine.  It’s insane.

    Feedburner works, but it requires users to start using a new feed URL to promote their site.  Feedburner makes a decent "What is RSS" page, but still limits users to just a handful of readers and just a couple of alternate delivery methods.

    I think Feedpass does it best and is the easiest solution for regular Joes–the non techy bloggers out there.  Feedpass works great because it doesn’t require a change to the actual feed URL.  So for users who don’t want to "burn" their feed and don’t care about subscription stats, etc. it’s ideal.  Then, for those that do use Feedburner, they can still create a feedpass and get all the feedpass benefits, in addition to the Feedburner benefits and statistics.  User’s don’t even have to register for feedpass…but if they do, they can even track feedpass views, an interesting statistic to help show the number of users that considered subscribing…and either did or didn’t.

    Feedpass automatically generates auto-discovery code, buttons and code for templates, etc.  It also creates a new "landing page" that bloggers can link to instead of just posting a raw XML link.  It guides newbies through the process AND still makes it easy for experts to manually copy and paste feed URL’s.

    Best of all, Feedpass makes sure that the browsers don’t hijack the user’s desire to use a particular feed reader.  Try IE7 beta today and you’ll see that it recognizes feeds….but then it tries to force you to subscribe using the IE7 "favorites" center, which is limited at best.

    Last of all, feedpass is free.  And anyone who uses the tool can actually earn money via the companies Google AdSense revenue sharing program.

    Check it out at  It’s one step closer to user-friendly RSS.


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