The orange icon…

It’s great that a discussion of icons has recently restarted in the RSS community. We are in the process of figuring out what icon to use on our toolbar in IE7 to represent feeds.  

There are five parts of the experience for feeds in IE7: discovering if a webpage has a feed, previewing the feed, subscribing to the feed to get continual notifications of new items, managing the list of the subscribed feeds, and reading the feed contents.  The icon in this post is for the first two parts which shipped in Beta 1.  The icon is visible in the IE7 frame to indicate the presence of a feed for the current webpage.  Clicking on the feed icon takes the user to readable preview of the feed from which the user can subscribe to it.

The choice of what icon to use is challenging because it should be universally symbolic, but today there is no single icon for that represents feed.  Instead there’s a variety of mostly orange rectangles with the words “XML”, “RSS”, “ATOM”, “FEED”, or “Subscribe.”

Our goal is to make sure that the icon is something that is understandable by all of our users: novice, advanced, developer, business, international, etc.  These are the principles that we are using when selecting an icon:

  1. It conveys the important attributes of feeds: newness, activity, subscription, and continual information.   
  2. It builds on the most consistent and identifiable element used to represent feeds today: the orange rectangle.   
  3. It avoids the use of text.  Icons that have text do not generally work well for a global audience. For example, an icon with the text “FEED” may be cryptic to users whose primary language is non-Latin based.  Text is very important to support an icon (in tool-tips or accompanying text). In English, we will be using the verb “subscribe” fairly widely whenever text is appropriate.

We took a look at the prevalent icons used today but none of them fit our principles.  The Firefox icon is close, but it lacks the rectangular dimension (principle #2).  Here are some of the ideas that we’ve been playing around with:

    1 – We use a variation of the gleam to convey that feeds are updatable.

    2 – The ring illustrates movement around a feed.

    3 – This is a spark to show new information being broadcasted.

    4 – We use waves to show broadcasting of content.

    5 – This is the Beta 1 icon with our new requirements.

We have a couple of weeks to get the final design.  Please leave comments with any feedback or links to other good ideas!

- jane

Update 12/16: A decision was made. Check it out here. Thanks for all the comments.



Comments (290)

  1. Bob W says:

    You should follow the W3C’s recommendation

  2. Wolf Logan says:

    Bob W: as far as I can tell, the W3C hasn’t weighed in on this yet. they’re maintaining their distance from RSS entirely for the time being.

    I think #2 should be dropped on strictly graphic-design criteria: it involves lots of shading and subtlety that won’t survive scaling and/or odd presentation scenarios.

    #4 loses (in my opinion) since the contained graphic bleeds to the edge of the rectangle, weakening the rectangular element significantly.

    #5 suffers from ambiguity. it’s unique, but unfortunately doesn’t read as anything recognisable (even with the other "radio broadcast" icons on this page, its "broadcast waves" are graphically weak). it rather reminds me of a head with a halo, or an unusual hat.

    so that has it down to #1 and #3. of the two, I think I have a slight preference for #3, because it conveys the "broadcast" aspect somewhat better. the star icon has already been done to death as "favorite" (the five-pointed star, at least), and the gleam as "new". also, in extreme presentation scenarios, the eight-point star is likely to lose its identity.

  3. Keith Farmer says:

    Perhaps esoteric, but (3) with angle brackets:



    <<+>> (potential for click animation)

    I also like (5), which may potentially work better with The New Look.

    I would avoid (4), because it’s too close to the volume control iconography. (1) and (2) are both perhaps too abstract and don’t really convey the idea of content being broadcast or posted.

    Bob: If the W3C starts recommending *icons* — something completely out of their scope — they’ve lose any respectability. What would be next? W3C standards for layout and avoiding the use of plaid?

    I’ve checked their site, and I (thankfully) don’t see them sticking their noses there.

  4. No. 5 is definitely the best one ! I hope it will be a multi-state icon to be more effective !

  5. Greg says:

    I also agree with option No.5. For me, No.2 looks really visually appealing (i.e., pretty), but doesn’t do much to convey the broadcasting of information.

    No.4 should be avoided. If I were to take a look at that icon and not already know that it was associated with RSS, I’d guess it had something to do with sound.

    No.3 should also be avoided. It looks to similar to any "new object" icon (i.e., new tab, new email, etc.)

  6. Ilya Birman says:

    To me it’s also number 5 which appears to be the best. They are very little informative, compared to usual [RSS] icons, so I judge only by graphical "niceness".

    But come on, just use [RSS]! 🙂

  7. Kearns says:

    #5 looks like a guy’s head with a big turban on.

    #3 and #4 win out for me, both certainly have the "broadcast" concept in a clear fashion, and could even have some sort of animation easily put into them, if an application desired such.

  8. lippel says:

    > But come on, just use [RSS]! 🙂

    That is not a good idea, as the author states correctly. First, it uses text, and second, it uses a technical term the average user should not care about (given that you also have RDF and Atom out there, and it’s not even clearly defined what RSS stands for). The user should understand that this enables him to monitor a site for updates, and not how it is technically solved.

    And yeah, icon 3 reminds me _slightly_ on the icon used in KDE’s konqueror. So you might check that out if you like icon 3 😛

  9. Stephane Rodriguez says:

    If we are talking something that gets updated, then no static icon will represent it. Use an animated one.

    IMHO you should not onlt define an animation, but also a special sound for it, for all those who will want to have those alerts in the systray. All configurable of course.

    Also let power users pick the ones they want in their settings. A no brainer, and yet brings the feel of a customizable browser, and also ends the issue of choice.

  10. Neil T. says:

    Number 5 looks the best. The fact that it closely resembles the Firefox icon is good as then it can be standardised upon.

  11. Gert Van Waelvelde says:

    I like icons 3, 4 and 5.

    Icon 4 is probably not a good choice though, because as some people have said, icon 4 looks as if it has something to do with sound.

    Also, icon 4 make me think of alarm systems

    (I know a company that sells alarm systems and has a logo somewhat similar to icon 4).

    So, I think you should go with either icon 3 or icon 5!

  12. Alijah says:

    I think all the icon should be used or aleast the design concept that they represent. they could morph into the right concept design depending on the action being taken place. AJAX use it everywhere you go with ie7

  13. Alijah says:

    I think all the icon should be used or aleast the design concept that they represent. they could morph into the right concept design depending on the action being taken place. AJAX use it everywhere you go with ie7

  14. Nick Davis says:

    3, definitely.

    Parenthesis or angle brackets are both OK

  15. I’ve shrunk the icons down to half size for a more realistic view of how they would look. Check it out:

  16. Christopher Hill says:

    IMHO, 3 and 4 are the best. 5 is definately ambiguous and could be mistaken. Maybe 4 is best cos it is most like the FireFox icon.

  17. Matt Gartzke says:

    The 3rd and 4th ones are great. I like the 3rd one the most. Great job!

  18. Riddle says:

    Halo 2 is superb! In my opinion is far greater then fx’s icon, which is, as few of you said, too similar to sound wave. 5th – broadcasting the content, news. Great, I like it.

    I will edit my fx theme to switch its icon for 5th. Halo rox. 🙂

  19. TomC22 says:

    I like 4 & 5 but couldn’t really pick between the two (I like both at a pretty much equal amount). Both convey “broadcast” which I think is the best analogy for “syndication beginners”.

    That said, if I had to pick I’d go with 5, only because of the orientation. The signal seems to emanate up from the web page which seems like a user friendly way of indicating “this page broadcasts” to someone who is new to the whole concept.

    I’m sure people could figure it out either way, but as with anything in UI design, every moment before comprehension counts.

  20. Fred Zelders says:

    Use the white on orange XML icon and stop re-inventing.

  21. Fred, grow a clue. "XML" is text, it’s a technicality and even as a technicality it may become obsolete. Some of the worst "qualities" a bad icon can have

    Yay for icon 5, anyway

  22. Les says:

    Number 3 – spark.

    I would prefer the orange rectangle with XML or RSS, but I understand the argument.

  23. Mark Woods says:

    I’d suggest sticking with the familiar white on orange XML icon.

  24. Nick Swan says:

    I suggest sticking with the orange and white xml lettering as well!

  25. Don’t waste time reinventing and making someone learn something new. Use the orange rectangle with "XML", just like everyone in the community has been doing for years.

  26. AnotherWin95 says:

    I like #2 – ties in with loop around IE "E"

  27. Judson says:

    #5 is terrible, it looks like someone’s head with a hat or halo. It’s really alarmingly bad.

  28. sutrostyle says:

    Or you want to stick out, like Sony memory stick?

  29. Stan Vassilev says:

    (3) is the most slick one and conveys the idea behind the icon well.

    (1) looks like Favorites sorta

    (2) is ugly

    (4) is Firefox clone :)?

    (5) is … uhmm what is it anyway?

  30. TomC22 says:

    Let me just say, to the idea of “stay with the XML icon” or “just use RSS”…

    Please don’t.

    Yahoo (am I allowed to mention them here 😮 ) just released a report saying that a painfully small number of web users even know what RSS is. I’d be willing to bet that a huge reason for that is because feeds are marked in a way that no layman understands. That orange icon is holding syndication down…

    Second, RSS and the XML button have both become synonymous with RSS so if you’re going to support Atom as well you can’t really use those.

    There will always be the “if they can’t figure it out they just shouldn’t use it” crowd but, in the end, IE is a mainstream product and it should appeal to mainstream users, an ability that the orange button has proven it lacks.

  31. John says:

    Use the blue RSS icon (or at least the orange xml icon). No need to fracture the market yet again.

  32. BB says:

    1. No. Looks too similar to a Favorites icon.

    2. No.

    3. Yes.

    4. No. It reminds me of Firefox’s.

    5. No.

    As an idea, how about a radar screen with a trailing sweep?

    Something like this:

  33. The concept of ‘broadcast’ is fundamentally flawed. XML feeds are in *no way* broadcast. You have to go get them, they don’t come to you.

    This may seem like a petty detail now, but as the technology progresses this flawed analogy will become more and more obvious to the regular user and therefore become less intuitive and an interface hurdle.

    Forget broadcast. Period.

  34. Robin says:

    3 or 4 seem best to me, as they’re the ones that best show the transmission. If I had to choose I’d go for 4, but that’s probably cos I’m used to Firefox’s Livemark icon.

  35. kosso says:

    I posted my comments of #5 here a couple of weeks ago.

    I think evolution is ok. but why not just keep it simple, and not get too arty farty?

    marketeers and creatives could argue for each and every one of these choices and leave you thinking ‘oh, yeah, now I see why we chose that one’ but not everyone will get to hear that explanation.

    so, keep it simple. an orange button with the word ‘FEED’ (rss or atom agnostic – the user shouldn’t care) would do it.

    maybe future colours of the button, bearing the word ‘FEED’ could denote what kind of ‘feed’ it is. or how about even ‘feed’ or ‘list'(depending on the useage? gotta get those SLExtensions in there sooner or later, right? 😉 )

    Shapes etc look cool. I draw them all the time. But I bet different people associate different things to the same shape. You don’t have that problem with words and using the good old alphabet, eh? 😉

  36. William Lefkovics says:

    Ooo… maybe we can get the <a href=">Expression</a&gt; team to make a dynamic button and export it to .swf with sound and then implement it in a layer to have it glide across the screen…

    Do people really care about this? Fascinating. :o)

    Why would I use IE for RSS feeds anyway?

  37. Don’t be unique.

    Bazillions of websites and weblogs have already settled on the orange "rss" or "xml" icon.

  38. I too agree that Halo 2 rocks more than any of these icons… but then again… there’s very little that rocks as much as Halo 2 to begin with.

    In any case, #1 looks like some kind of German war medal, and I’ll agree that #5 looks like a man in a turban. #2 looks too empty. Left to choose between #3 and #4, I’d pick #3 because I like symmetrical icons, and that icon is.

  39. The W3C hasn’t weighed in, so go to the next logical authority – Dave Winer. Seriously.

    I HATE the idea of coming up with yet another icon/button for RSS feeds. The Yahoo whitepaper says a tiny fraction of people even know what it means.

    I know, let’s confuse them even more by introducing an icon with some vague image! That’s WAY better than including the text (RSS/XML/FEED).

    People don’t know about RSS. The answer is to educate them, not come up with YET ANOTHER attempt at making an icon that will "click". "This time, the masses will get it, for sure!" is not the right way to go about this…

    There’s a real opportunity here with Vista and IE7, that the average RSS-clueless person will be using. Let’s help EDUCATE about RSS! That’s the ONLY way to make this better!

  40. AndyC says:

    5 is just bad, really, really bad. Took me ages in beta 1 to realise it was the RSS icon and I knew what I was looking for!

    I’d go for either 1 or 3, of the two I think 3 has the edge somewhat.

  41. Alex says:

    Number 3 is by far the best.

    It it the most obvious to me …

  42. Common usage is the orange rectangle – and XML has the advantage of being both current usage and graphically least parochially ”English” – the letter ”X” has a universal graphical recognition – one could learn that as easily as another cryptic semi-intuitive symbol.

  43. kosso says:

    in response to AndyC, EXACTLY!! 🙂 I had that problem with finding where it was.

    If it had been 1 or 3, I think we still would have had the same problem.

    And to Alex too, ‘FEED’ is the most obvious to me. I would have hit that in a second. I would have SPOKEN to me, as opposed to given me a curious wink 😉

  44. kosso says:

    in response to AndyC, EXACTLY!! 🙂 I had that problem with finding where it was.

    If it had been 1 or 3, I think we still would have had the same problem.

    And to Alex too, ‘FEED’ is the most obvious to me. I would have hit that in a second. It would have SPOKEN to me, as opposed to given me a curious wink 😉

  45. John says:

    If microsoft comes up with their own unique icon they get flamed for confusing users and making everything ‘the microsoft way’ – damn firefox already existing icon.

    If they base their icon on the firefox one then they get flamed for copying.

    In light of the lack of an official w3c recommendation, you should base the icon on the default industry standard – the orange rss text, or the firefox icon.

    Admit it, you will get flamed no matter what choice you make 😉

    In my opion you should go with the rss text icon. Stop dumming it down to users! They will already have some subconcious association with that icon, and the net total of users who will have seen the rss icon will be greater than those who have seen the firefox one.

  46. eric l says:

    from best to worst:

    #3. the spark also looks like a plus sign, which i kindof like, and the waves coming out from both sides imply a broadcast of some sort. i think it’s an excellent graphic representation of all the things rss means to a user.

    #5 looks like something sending a broadcast or signal out, i like it, but not as much as #3.

    #1 is vague. it doesn’t graphically mean anything.

    #2 is WAY too close to the earthlink logo

    #4 looks like it has to do with sound or volume and also that it looks like firefox’s (which i also find confusing). it’s a bad bad bad idea.

  47. Trevor says:

    #5 looks like a UFO

  48. W. J. Brown says:

    Why are you trying to reinvent what has become standardized.

    Don’t try to be cute or unique.

    Go with the white on orange RSS or XML that everyone elsein the universe uses and associates with RSS. You’re only going to confuse users and alienate all of us that were early adopters.

  49. Scott says:

    If you have to explain the icons, your icons aren’t descriptive enough.

    The localization argument against using text in an icon smells bad to me. It means you aren’t preparing your app for localization enough. If you put "Web Feed" in the icon, you should be prepared to change it to whatever language the user has set. Not usings "RSS" or "XML" because it is too technical makes sense. But people are remarkably adaptable creatures. Eventually, they figure out that pressing the "RSS" or "XML" icon means they subscribe to the web site, even if they don’t know what they stand for.

  50. Adam Kinney says:

    Just give me a plus and minus sign. The link behind my name leads to the my concept images posted on my blog.

  51. Mike M says:

    Please use the standard RSS/XML icon that everyone on the internet uses. Why reinvent something that has become an "unofficial" standard?

  52. Anonymous says:

    2 is overly complicated. 1 and 3 may seem to make sense, but they are actually ambiguous– the "spark" doesn’t necessarily have that "brand new" gleam when it’s all white. 4 is the best you’ve designed.

  53. Mark Allen says:

    I guess this comes under Microsoft’s famous "embrace and extend" philosophy. Of course, its "embrace and extend" the same way a Boa Constrictor does. "Obfuscate and confuse" would be more accurate. Please do yourself and your users a huge favor – stick with the standard orange and white icon that everyone already understands. Had Microsoft come to the party earlier, perhaps you could have been involved in developing an icon for everyone to agree on … but you didn’t. You’re skiing along behind the boat … quit trying to steer.

  54. I’d vote for number 4. The broadcasting is the clearest metaphor I can think of.

  55. kosso says:

    my last 2p:

    they ALL look like warnings. like you could possibly get irradiated. or catch a disease! they all say ‘stay away!!!’ ‘DANGER!! high voltage!!’

    stick to ‘FEED’ – at least while people try to ‘get’ what they’re all about.

  56. Zach Inglis says:


    I disagree with everyone else. They’re not trying to change the icon to be artsy fartsy… they’re doing it to make IE7 user friendly.

    <a href="">Molly</a&gt; said it best. Most web users aren’t developers and don’t know what this means. I mean if you walked into (insert a place completely foreign to you here) and saw a random 3 letter word, you’d have no clue. And when you clicked it, you’d be scared off. Quite a lot of the people i’ve taught over the years, didn’t feel confident in pressing their back button (due to the alerts and what not, they felt they were going to break it).

    My judgement:

    1. Bit plain but works.

    2. Nice, typical of MS graphics, won’t look good scaled. and i have no idea what background its on and how it’ll look on that.

    3. The best, give it a go rotated too.

    4. Nope, bleeds as said and just doesn’t feel right.

    5. Looks like a rastafarian.

  57. Andrew Herron says:

    I agree with dave winer and all the others saying leave it how it is. The white-on-orange xml icon is extremely prevalent already, and being an acronym it gets around the language barrier you’re scared of for text on images.

    I don’t think a pretty little icon will make people any more happy with using RSS than the current semi-standard does.

  58. sean says:

    I have no idea what those icons mean. But an orage and white XML is common, understood, and established.

  59. codemastr says:

    Ignore the people who keep suggesting using words in images, it’s clearly a terrible idea. You want to talk about confusion… I’m sure Chinese users would really appreciate it saying XML or whatever. I mean, imagine if MS suggested putting the Chinese word for RSS on it, do you think the English speaking users would be too thrilled? I think not.

    Anyway, I suggest a slightly modified version of #5. I changed maybe 10 pixels and I think it looks much better. Basically, I disconnected the two "waves" and I also disconnected them from the center ball. That’s what I’d suggest!

  60. Jason Cox says:

    1 – Users will see this and think ‘ohh, click here!’, but it has no meaning for RSS

    2 – You might get some HALO fans clicking this one, but the ring doesnt seem to have any meaning toward RSS or syndicated feeds

    3 – This is too similar to a wireless broadcast icon, lets not use similar icons to ones in use, it’ll confuse users

    4 – See #3

    5 – Keep this design, maybe rotate it clockwise a bit

  61. Sammy says:

    Uhhhhh…didn’t the guy above just point out the yahoo report which says that people don’t understand the xml button and that people don’t use rss because of it.

    I mean, do I really have to point out the stupidity of someone saying "if you have to explain an icon it isn’t good so use a button with XML on it"? Or "an orage and white XML is common, understood, and established"…by who, the 5% of people who use RSS right now?

    stupid man, just stupid…

    P.S. I like 4 but I use firefox so it could just be that I’m used to it.

  62. Keith Farmer says:

    So English-speaking geeks seem to think that everybody’s grandmother (a) speaks english, (b) knows what the following terms are: XML, RDF, RSS, ATOM, etc. Just how many orange icons are there that are based on text? I’ve seen several on a single page.

    These icons *are not for the geeks*. The icon selected with have the single task of conveying a concept, whose inner workings should be of no concern to the user.

    So get over it. It’s not a matter of "education" — it’s a matter of creating something reachable to the non-programmers in the audience, and something which won’t have to be re-created when the implementation of a subscription service changes.

    That said, consider "FF Redux" vs "Firefox". FF Redux has the problem of too many fine lines. I needs to have fewer, and thicker, waves before it becomes easily identifiable. That places it lower on my list.

    Another suggestion, no listed, is to go back to the various prior icons used, such as the satellite dish, which is more closely associated with reception rather than transmission.

  63. Robert says:

    Reflex MS-bashers are commenting "Go with the white on orange RSS or XML" that "everyone" uses.

    Don’t they see that facts that current usage is split between "RSS" and "XML", and that users don’t have a clue what either one might stand for? (Ah yes, before you subscribe to updates here, let me tell you about "syndication" and explain "markup languages" to you. It will only take a month or so to explain.)

    Give MS credit for doing something really right here: retaining everything that can be retained (orange, rectangle, …) and fixing the serious mistakes which have interfered with communicating this feature.


  64. cori says:

    Don’t reinvent; use the RSS or XML "standard".

    1) It’s text, which is a *good* thing; it can be represented adequately in an accessible browser and can be styled in CSS to display as you’d like – both very good things IMHO. It can also be internationalized (no matter what the naysayers above indicate).

    2) It’s well on it’s way to being established – much better for you all to join the community than to go off in your own direction in some vague and pointless branding effort.

    3) To those who say that only 5% of people "get" RSS – so what? Not that long ago only 5% of computer users got "www" or "the web" or "http", and not everyone gets "HDTV" or "MP3". Technology leaders set the tone and the users will catch up; they always do. None of these icons are going to be understandable to the general user unless they learn what it means; what’s the difference if they learn "RSS" as opposed to "little spaceship-looking icon". Just because RSS is an acronym for a technology doesn’t mean that the user needs to care about the technology involved.

  65. Sammy says:

    Cori – (1) The post is about a toolbar icon (2) every browser uses a different toolbar icon, none use the xml button (so no standard) (3) Users set the tone, when technology leaders try to set the tone they fail (4) what say you try reading the post before replying next time?

  66. Jon Abad says:

    I’m a fan of #3 and #4.

    I think that broadcast ripples are going to end up as the symbol of subscription.

  67. Microsoft can do whatever it wants, but most people won’t change from the clear and unambigous orange text "RSS" or "XML", which has the substantial advantage it can be rendered in CSS, with virtually no bandwidth consumption. Text is better. You’re reading this in text, right? Not some incoherent invented symbols?

    On to feedback. Both icons 4 and 5 are quite inferior, seeing as how the pattern is basically already TAKEN. These are indistinguishable from tokens indicating WIFI connectivity, or connection BARS in a lot of different phone contexts. Number 3 is also kind of like that, too. Number 2 conflicts with the semantics of plus/minus signs indicating that a tree structure can be expandedl/collapsed, which leaves us with number 1. (_And why isn’t RSS in text presented as a feedback option here? "oh, we can’t have that, it’s text" What a stupid argument)

    Number 1 is nothing better than a non-text asterisk.

    These are all just hieroglyphics. Put them in the Egyptian version of Windows and go on a long vacation down the Nile. Get back to me when you’ve solved the riddle of the Sphynx.

  68. Why not use the orange XML icon? It’s pretty common. You could gussie it up if you wanted.

    You say it wouldn’t be understood by all levels of users, but if you made it the same icon all around, people would get to know.

    I see the printer icon and I know it’s for printing documents. I see the orange XML and I know there is a feed.

  69. War59312 says:

    I like number 3 best. 🙂

  70. You guys must be kiddin’!

    There’s a perfect white on orange icon out there. It’s the de facto standard.

    Are you new to RSS feeds by any chance?

    Please don’t redesign what works perfectly…..



  71. Simone says:

    Probably most users doesn’t know what ‘RSS’ is … but also doesn’t know what ‘symbol that you have to choose’ is, so let them to learn what is ‘RSS’, don’t create something ‘new’.


  72. Pieter Overbeeke says:

    Use the white on orange XML icon and stop re-inventing.

  73. Tollie says:

    +FEED, and allow the colors to be changed via Syndication Options, or whatever you’re calling it. Default to white on orange. That way, the button is associated with those options to ‘check every few hours’ and ‘mark updates as new’ etc.

    For the non-english versions- is it that hard to localize an image?

  74. Paul Wheeler says:

    I like 3 and 4, they look simple, traditional, and have a clear broadcast connotation.

    To the followers of David Winer chanting "stop reinventing" like good little zealots, why don’t you stop shooting yourself and RSS in the foot!

    Go up to 50 people on the street and ask them what RSS is. If you’re lucky, two of them might have a clue ("uh, some internet thing"). Here’s the thing, everybody knows "email" nobody knows POP, SMTP, IMAP, etc. Why? Because those acronymns are terms we use to refer to the plumming, and, how many times do I have to say it, end users don’t see plumming! (unless they want to). Now, it sounds to me like the IE team is *not* trying to get bloggers to throw out their pretty little 36×14 pixel orange icons. For the techy people who want to get the URL of your RSS or ATOM quickly, you should absolutely have those icons (and near the top please). However, IE needs to have an icon in the toolbar. Something that is actual pretty, hi-fi, memorable, and end-user-non-acronym-o-phile friendly.

  75. Erik Porter says:

    I don’t get it. Why should there be more than one (maybe two)? Is IE going to become an RSS Aggregator too? If not, I really don’t get the need for all the icons! *confused*

  76. I agree that XML and RSS with white on orange are too geek-oriented. I prefer "Feed". We don’t _really_ need to educate people about RDF/RSS/Atom, but I believe "Feed" is as generic as "Web page", don’t you think?

    Erik’s suggestion about localization is what I had on my mind too.

    I mean if the user knows what "File", "Edit" and "View" mean, then chances are they’ll know what "Feed" means, right? And if they have a localized browser, then they can also have a localized "Feed" image.

    The tooltip can say "Subscribe" as you’ve said, which put together with "Feed" becomes "Subscribe to this feed".


    Of course, if that argument isn’t valid – and I’m definitely no Usability-guru – then I prefer #4. It’s similar to the Firefox icon, and would be easier to recognize for FF users. Of course, it might need some modification to fix the bleeding.

  77. Oops. I meant Tollie’s idea.

  78. Alyssa Milburn says:

    I think #3 gets the point across best. #4 is baaad because it doesn’t stay inside the rectangle. The others don’t make a lot of sense to me..

  79. dazzle says:

    How about none of the icons displayed but keep with the orange background and go for a picture of a newspaper or magazine.

    A newspaper / magazine is updated daily, has current information, is up-to-date and subscribable, and most countries have newspapers and magazines and an understanding of what they mean. Combine the ‘new’ with the ‘old’.

    For me a broadcast symbol is too representative of television or radio and something more dynamic than just, predominantly, text, and while people may be hoping that syndication will eventually be ‘just another broadcast medium’ it isn’t yet – even with the enclosure tag in RSS.

  80. Daniel says:

    Why is the original button not an option?

    I am sorry, but, i hope the whole world flames you for this kind of behaviour, and you know you had a chance to do it right. Its so silly, even embarising, you get the best technologie since the internet whas created handed on a plate for free, and then you try to recreate the weel, and end up creating more confusion.

    And in the meantime, your competitors embrace and extend, and you lose credibility.

    You dont want to be messing with alfa geeks, cause their the decision makers, for the not so computer minded peeps and you dont want to be filling their heads with negative experiences/emotions cause you know who they will promote, and thats not gonna be you cause you.

    Do not try to recreate the wheel, and put a leash on this technology. You dont get it, blogging is the voice of the customer, dont fight it. Youknow, fighting customers is really really bad. Your acting like a mamut, and youknow what happened to them. I wish you much wisdom.

  81. Stef says:

    Am I the only onewho actually prefers the Beta 1 icon? Using an orange background will probably stand out like a sore thumb among the other background-less icons on IE’s toolbar.

    That said, if I had to choose I’d pick #5, which might look better if the tips of the ‘halo’ were disconnected from the sphere (as in the beta 1 version).

  82. Chris says:

    The (3) ‘avoid text’ point may not be so relevant when something is already almost a web ‘default’ standard. However there is already a division, e.g. has an orange XML icon, The BBC uses an orange RSS icon.

    So the orange bit is agreed upon. Is it worth engaging the other browser developers (Firefox, Opera) and major websites (bbc etc) into agreeing upon a new icon that all the browsers will change to?

  83. sbc says:

    Isn’t RSS a bit too specific and XML a bit vague. The feed might not be RSS for one thing, and XML is not just used for feeds. ‘Feed’ is more appropriate, but you would probably want to localise it for other languages, so using an icon without text is a better way. Some use Feedburner as well, which converts the feed into whatever format the aggregator supports (plus saves bandwidth for the publisher).

    Not even those into feeds can agree, there are lots of people saying use XML or RSS, which to me means neither is appropriate.

    #3 looks the best to me out of the choices. Perhaps if 4 was modified so it would be bottom left to top right it would look better.

  84. frankp says:

    So far my favourite solution is <a href="">Adam Kinneys</a>

    It uses the familiar orange to signify a feed and uses a simple plus or minus to indicate an action.

    It also includes the ‘broadcast’ detail. Now, I understand peoples reservations about broadcast, but in this case I think it works because it is used in conjunction with the plus or minus sign.

  85. mai says:

    i like 2, 3, and 5. 2 is lovely, but it is also somewhat reminiscent of Earthlink. don’t get people confused. avoid that.

    3 is good, because of the ‘spark’, although it could also be used to convey information about radio, etc.

    also confusing.

    and 5 is good, except that it seems to be something else. a whirlwind, perhaps.

    4 is actually better. avoiding the use of text is a nice idea, but perhaps using the text, faded into the background somehow, would be best. people don’t want to learn new things…

  86. Srinivasan R says:

    I would order the icons as follows.






    But I think a simple XML would suffice..

  87. Farooq says:

    2 and 3 are the best…

  88. phillip says:

    Stick with what people know and what doesn’t require digging through a help file to learn. At least [RSS] means RSS, and [XML] means XML. Someone can actually type them into a search engine to find out what they mean.

    I understand Principle 3, but I think iconography on a concept so unnatural as "a link to a URL that gets updated as content is added" is not going to fit well into a tiny image. I don’t know what these icons represent from looking at them or how they represent feeds, and the descriptions aren’t helping (what does "movement around a feed" actually mean?). The meanings would have to be broadcast along with them "[ * ] (this a is an RSS feed (click here to find out what an RSS feed is))".

    As noted in other comments, using icon X might be misinterpreted as being related to concept Y (icon 4, the most sensible to me, looks like a sound speaker icon). Icons are great for representing everyday concepts. RSS/XML/ATOM is not one of those concepts. I think the given icon choices are forced associations and will not work well compared to what people have seen already (RSS, XML) and can investigate outside of their browser’s help file.

  89. Rob D says:

    I think people are misunderstanding what this is for. The icons are for the IE toolbar, not for the web page. When IE detects an RSS feed on the page, it will enable the toolbar icon. It would be completely inappropriate for a toolbar icon to have the text on it, e.g. RSS or XML.

  90. I work and IBM and a half dozens memebers on my team seriously considered (privately and amongst ourselves) using podcast icons created by norm augustinus for our IBM Systems audio updates. Instead and we just went with the orange RSS icons and simple speaker with sound waves gif. Check out his podcast icon:

  91. Chris says:

    I have a gut feeling that most of the people that keep on saying "just stick with the XML or RSS button" are either programmers that don’t "get usability" or designers that think they "get usability".

    A while back I used to think that as time progressed, the number of UI people that "got it" would increase exponentially. The comments I see here are yet another example to me that this is not the case. I actually believe the UI people that "get it" are decreasing as a proportion of total number of people doing UI work on the Web.

    Even though people rip on Microsoft left and right, at least you and your company are showing concern for end users — something most idiot Web people have no experience doing.

    So IE team, thanks for at least trying to help with RSS button mess we’ve found ourselves in.

    Overall I like button number 3 even though I don’t really like any of them. (I wish I could come up with something better.) One suggestion: If a user clicks that button, they should see, in the dialog that opens up, examples of all the feed buttons they might encounter on the Web. This might help people put 2 and 2 together.

  92. TQ White II says:

    Stick with the current orange icon that says ‘RSS’ on it.

    There is no benefit to abstracting the icon except to allow you to substitute different technologies to support it. But that means that I can’t go to a site and know what I am subscribing to. That reduces my trust.

    Further, I can now tell non-tech friends to look for the "orange RSS icon" and be sure they will be able to identify the right one. I don’t believe that will be true with your more abstract designs.


  93. I’m of the through the orange XML icon is fine.

    I have read the comments since my intial post and am struck by how much of the decision process in this is forced on the user.

    Usability, at the heart of things, is making a process easier to understand for a user.

    How about tacking this route? Why not stick with the standard orange XML icon and make the software smart enough to know what to do with it?

    Why the need to communicate in a new icon about the the purpose? For years the orange XML icon has been the standard and the software will know what to do with it.

    If Microsoft took this step other vendors would as well based on the installed base of windows users.

  94. Jimmy says:

    #4, #3, #5 in that order. #4 looks like the podcasting logo that many are using right now, which I think is a good idea to try to move towards.

    And I absolutely agree with some of the other posters — the "XML" or "RSS" logo that Whiner thinks we should stick with is dense. No mainstream user knows what that means. Thank you Microsoft for trying to make something better (again).

  95. No. 4 most clearly conveys the idea of sending information to a receiver. All of the others are far too abstract. The fact that it resembles Firefox’s icon is proof of concept, not a rip-off. Icons don’t work if everybody’s icon for the same thing is completely different.

    Microsoft has an update icon used in MS Office for updating linked information and queries. Maybe that could include RSS as well.

    W3C’s recommendations are not holy writ. In case nobody’s noticed, RSS and XML are only valid for English-speaking persons. So much for the global internet. Plus, the technology should "just work" without the user needing to understand it in the same way a computer nerd does.

  96. Munro says:

    #4 would be my pick. I think though that some icon that denotes "News" to users would be the best for feeds because that is generally what RSS feeds and blogs have brought to readers. #4 and #5 denote some sort of radio broadcasting or podcasting in my opinion. Maybe an orange rectangle with an easily distinguishable newspaper icon inside. Best for a small icon would probably be a rolled up newspaper, though an open newspaper could also work.

  97. Greg says:

    I vote for a variation on a theme – Take number 2 and put the "word" SUB in white on the button (under the swoosh). People might actually get that. The word "subscribe" can work and makes sense to end users.

  98. Gregor Herdmann says:

    Variant 4 looks definitely too much like broadcasting audio content. It looks similar to one of the icons you find on every sound card.

  99. For a change, Microsoft’s idea to redo RSS icon makes perfect sense to non-geeks like myself. It is "World Wide Web" and the icons need to adress the "global" requirements. Use of english words "RSS" is totally not acceptable.

    Having said the above, Microsoft can reduce the number of icons so that users are not confused.

  100. Katsu says:

    What you are doing in terms of IE7 is a sheer copy of Mozilla Firefox, in my opinion. Even these orange icons, whichever chosen eventually, are complete resemblances of that of Firefox!

  101. ss says:

    Don’t reinvent; use the RSS or XML "standard".

    There was a standard for it,you guys appaernlt ripped of firefox in one design and on IE 7,all of them suck because it does not convey what it should.Damn

  102. John Harnett says:

    Just been to, and RSS on orange is good enough for them. these new icons, and the above explaining text that accompanies, suggest RSS is about "Broadcasting" but it isn’t. It’s about broad catching. RSS has got as far as it has by cooperation, going with what’s out there already. Scoble, winer et al have already had this conversation already. I think Scoble already pointed ok that the likes of CD, DVD, HDTV, TIVO, we’re renamed to make them easier to swallow. Didn’t someone already that dispite their names Google, Yahoo! and Flickr get used/consumed and worked with very nicely.

  103. David Gong says:

    I choose #4 b/c it looks most similar to what Firefox currently uses. We need to start standardizing icons in this industry.

  104. Gemma says:

    #4 it´s the best. RSS is just that: spreading information like a pulse, like a radio signal. Bip bip bip

  105. Bill Brandon says:

    I don’t really think any of the five is great at communicating what RSS is about, but if these are the only five that are being/will be considered, I’d go with #3.

    #1 says "splat!" to me. Good for pigeons and seagulls, but may communicate something other than intended.

    #2 brings to mind some hand gestures that are considered obscene in many cultures.

    #4 says "audio" to me. OK for podcasting, perhaps, but not for RSS in general.

    #5 is just silly. Somebody called it "clown nose turban" which is certainly what it looks like.

    I don’t have a problem with the classic orange and white XML, but I do understand that it needs to be an icon, and it must mean something to people who are not geeks. According to the latest surveys, better than 80% of users don’t know what RSS is (and will never care, either, if you ask me, although they love what it does).


  106. Patricia says:

    I also think that "RSS" is just fine… People around the world know lots of English words and initials; also, after all this time using RSS, learning a new icon could be weird.

  107. Patricia > RSS doesn’t work for ATOM feeds and be sure there could be other formats soon. I heard Microsoft will talk about "web feeds" so we could use feeds, but in France, we talk about "flux" and what about Chinese or Japanese. I say MS has strength to promote a new icon.

    IE Team > You should go with #4 which looks like firefox one and is already known by many of us.

  108. stark says:

    I think no. 5 is good. The no. 4 has too much and too thin waves. The third seems to be good as well but maybe a point or a square instead of the spark would be better. Cheers

  109. Xepol says:

    1,2,3 and 5 are meaningless to me. What is with the star???

    I prefer 4, it definitely conveys the concept of a broadcast (what the f is with 5? I NEVER could figure out what that mangled bit of lines was suppose to be.)

    Someone mentioned that it cuts the edges. Easily addressed with a border effect. Someone suggested it resembles volume iconography. Since IE doesn’t have a volume control, and they are more pyramid in nature with no curves, I don’t see it myself.

    For the record, #2 REALLY sucks. It is a rectangle with a ring. Rings don’t convey motion to me. In fact, to many people, they convey a static condition. Be it a link in a chain, or a wedding ring (which definitely means all that "broadcasting it around motion" should stop), none of it really means motion to me. And yes, that means I think the little swoop over the IE e looks lame too.

  110. Sarah says:

    I personally would have voted for text. A symbol people have never seen before will be just as cryptic as a button saying "FEED".

  111. Keith Farmer says:

    Xepol: Grandma doesn’t know that IE probably doesn’t do volume control. A good icon transcends not just the technology but also the application, so placing an icon that closely resembles the volume control icons used on devices would be misleading UI unless it really was attached to a volume control somewhere.

    Microsoft: It seems, given the tone of complaints from the use-text crowd, that you didn’t convey the usage well enough. It’s also seems likely that you requested opinions from the wrong crowd (geeks) when you really need to be soliciting opinions from people who don’t actually know the Orange Icon.

    Another option, a throw-back to RKO and the like: the top of the radio tower, with lightning bolts.

    [~A~], [>A<], [>|<] or [~|~] (the pipes being half-height, though potentially too close to the magic wand icon)

    Bolts and waves have long been used to convey the idea of "communicate", which is probably closer to syndicated feeds than "news" or "post", while possibly abstract enough to endure changes in the technology. However, between the two, "~" may more recognizeable than ")))" when tossed into an icon. Radio towers themselves are fairly recognizable in a wide range of cultures, and represent the communication mode that is being addressed: the same that radio and television stations have long employed. We can sidestep the need for distinguishing from any hypothetical podcast/internet radio icon by relying on the speaker icon that often accompanies audio links.

    Two faces with a wave in between would probably be a poor choice for this, though it could work for IM: [}~{] (the difference I see is that of an isolated source versus a two-way conversation between people). That being the case, it brings up the idea of enabling websites to embed instant messaging information in the page, which browsers could proxy contact creation for registered IM apps. Just a free thought…

    A newspaper is probably not the best choice, being too tightly bound to actual news services and news aggregators: AP, Reuters, Google, Yahoo. Most RSS use is more soapbox and diary, which just isn’t the same.

    (It’s the attack of ASCII Art!)

  112. I’ve just designed a site where we used the orange box with white text. Difference is we wrote "Subscribe".

    I think it’s an alternative worth considering. Not RSS or XML, not an abstract icon that no one understands. Instead, a clear message.

  113. Dominic says:

    #5 looks like a clam shell to me, with pearl.

  114. Gineer says:

    I like the one you guys are using in the Beta now the best. However, what ever happened to the origional RSS in an orange block?

    I must add however, that I have not been able to figure out how the RSS feed in IE7 works. How do you subscribe to a particular feed after you’ve opened it to be notified of new entries.

    I currently use RSSReader v1.0.88.0 from I was hoping the IE7 stuff would have similar functionality

  115. James says:

    I think that something like a newspaper with waves would be good. Also are these icons final?

    and all the people that say "just stick with the XML or RSS button" just "Dont get it"

    Good work guys

  116. Keith Farmer says:

    To the wordies:

    Re-read the first paragraph. The icon isn’t for the site — it’s for the toolbar. "Subscribe" doesn’t read well outside of English, and even less well outside of the Romance languages. Keep in mind that an icon is used by people who don’t know English or the Latin alphabet.

    I like the counter-example of choosing to write "Feed" or "Subscribe" in Chinese characters — it wouldn’t work at all for North America or Europe.

    It’s like saying that just because English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for everyone.

    It wasn’t, and it’s not.

  117. GJ says:

    Hi folks

    These icons reminiscent aKregator icons present in the ‘wild world’ for a while now (over a year). Another case where microsoft is just stealing someone else’s design. Shame.

    Please check out aKregator (rss core for KDE)., and find out yourself !.

  118. Mike Weller says:

    Got to be #3 for me.

    And let’s stop criticizing the team for not using the RSS/XML button.

    Why don’t we all bash the Firefox team for breaking this so called ‘standard’?

  119. Michael Ward says:

    Go with the orange RSS buttom, drop those glass effects in Longohorn, make it so that Word only uses tags and has no visual formatting tools, adopt linux as your desktop solution (and stick with the deafault interface) and accept the fact the noobs will never ‘get it’.

    Or, make some progress is setting a graphical standard in an area that could be useful to many but is currently underexposed because of its stupid technicalities.

    People – XML or RSS icons mean NOTHING to those who don’t know what they stand for and don’t have the time or inclanation to find out. Just because you are a computer geek, doesn’t mean everyone is. Why exclude average joe from the party?

  120. Carlos says:

    A pesar de ser de la competencia, el simbolo que usa firefox para anunciar un feed seria correcto. Es similar al nº 4. No esun simbolo registrado por lo que no habria problema de usarlo.

    El software privativo no tiene que ignorar el libre. Tiene que aportar mejoras, pero tambien puede aprovechar sus innovaciones.

  121. Jeffrey says:

    The orange RSS/XML ‘text’ symbols are pretty standard already, stop inventing the wheel 🙂

    If MS wants 1 icon for all (RSS/XML/ATOM/FEED/SUBSCRIBE) then I would choose a rotated nr 5.

  122. You all are kidding correct. 2 MAJOR THUMBS DOWN. Use the orginal one we have worked hard to get it recoginzed as much as we have. Changing the icon now is pure stupidity.

  123. Alexander says:

    Out of those five variants, the number 3 is the most appropriate, in my opinion.

  124. Jay says:

    All of you who think these icons would work are sadly mistaken. Microsoft, in this and many other cases, seem to think people can’t learn and they need things dumbed down. wtf? Education is the key, not dumbing things down so they don’t have to learn. I say stay with the standard that everyone else is using, or people will be even more confused. Perhaps a nice MS "help" file explaining what RSS and XML are? Leaving people uneducated is a dumb idea….

    Leave it alone and use the graphics everyone else is using.

  125. Ben says:

    Where did you get the idea for number 4 from?

    Oh yeah, it’s a straight life from Firefox Live Bookmarks.

    So this is the new Microsoft – keep making third-rate copies of what the true innovators are doing, but blog about it at the same time? Good work team.

  126. Porta says:

    La verdad es que los íconos que veo me parecen lamentables…

    Considero que será mucho más inteligente no modificar nada y seguir usando los actuales.

  127. A. P. says:

    Both the ‘antenna’ and the ‘waves’ concept at first says "Volume Control" or "Wireless" to me. I can see how most people are going to see it, my parents have used versions of Firefox since I installed in on their machine almost a year ago…up until just a few weeks ago my dad thought the Live Bookmark button was the volume control for embedded media like Flash content. He said it was easier just to change it on the speakers themselves. Just relying on the orange color to denote it as a feed won’t work…using a non-standard symbol won’t work either. And cloning Firefox isn’t a great way to show people that IE7 is going to be ‘different.’

  128. AC says:

    I like number 5. Number 1-3 don’t convey anything to me, and number 4 is too generic and overused (It looks like the logo of among other things).

  129. rdas7 says:

    My thoughts on each icon "design" <- nb use of quotes.

    "1 – We use a variation of the gleam to convey that feeds are updatable." WTF?! How does a gleam convey that feeds are updatable? Why not have a little animation of a hula dancer? Oh wait, that’s number 2.

    "2 – The ring illustrates movement around a feed." Because the feed moves how?

    "3 – This is a spark to show new information being broadcasted." Broadcasted? Nice. Not only is your understanding of RSS basically flawed, so are your English.

    "4 – We use waves to show broadcasting of content." Because everyone knows, information, like water, travels in waves. Sorry, looks like a podcast icon to me. Oops, I mean "blogcast".

    "5 – This is the Beta 1 icon with our new requirements." You should be proud. If you spent half as long on the actual software as these icons you may actually ship something inside of 2005.

    There is a phrase: "Did you, like, just get the internet yesterday?"

  130. Mario says:

    I like the icon used in Firefox.

  131. I like Adam Kinney’s approach about having the icon be a plus sign if you are unsubscribed to the site, and a minus sign if you are. It’s very close to #3 (my favorite), but it also indicates that you’ve already subscribed, so no need to do again.

  132. jiml says:

    How about using the Orange XML icon that every body is used to, and then "screening" it to show different states?

  133. Nick says:

    I think No. 3 best conveys a Broadcast scenario and its also the simplest.

  134. TomC22 says:

    This IS stupid, education is the key, we should take all the people who don’t know what RSS is and bus them to camps where they’ll be educated on the finer points of syndication…it will be expensive, but no more expensive than me having to change a small 36 x 14 icon on my web site.

    Oh, and I get that your talking about a toolbar icon and not a web site button, but I’m too ignorant and self involved to concern myself with that right now. I want what I want and I want it now, if you don’t agree with me your just being evil and don’t try to refute my point with logic because I’ll just counter with a post that calls you names and then goes on to list the same refuted points as if they were something new.

    Para mi punto pasado, voy a mecanografiar en español a aunque puedo leer claramente inglés (según lo demostrado por el hecho de que estoy en un blog de discurso inglés que lee los postes ingleses). Estoy haciendo esto para demostrar cómo Microsoft desea siempre reinventar, español estaba alrededor de manera antes de inglés americano. ¿Por qué necesitamos una nueva lengua?

    P.S. Dave Winer is a God!

  135. AndyG says:

    #4 BUT the graphic vertical towards the top a la #5

  136. virtualblackfox says:

    Why not use the [RSS] orange icon, but changing it to [Feed] it’s more generic, and still understandable.

  137. a user says:

    why change an icon that is already standard and that people are used to seeing?

    leave it to MS to confuse the masses

  138. Craig Morris says:

    I agree that there shouldn’t be any text on the button, but I don’t see why the FF icon is out just because it’s "not a rectangle." Technically, it is, and the square-ish shape, combined with the orange color still relate it very well to the existing XML icon that so many people use today.

    Help create a standard, textless icon, and don’t be hard-headed and standoffish just because you didn’t come up with it.

    So, I vote for the Firefox icon.

  139. Wolf Logan says:

    I just this moment realized something: as a toolbar button, this icon will have text associated with it (as all toolbar buttons do). If this is an important enough button, it may have its text marked to appear in the "selective text on side" toolbar mode. So what text is going to be used? I’m guessing it will be "Subscribe", although I don’t know as I haven’t installed IE7.

  140. Keith Farmer says:

    Wolf: Correct — see the original post.

    TomCC2: And what, exactly, is wrong with creating a non-culture-specific glyph that people *don’t* have to waste time reading a manual to understand?

    Ίσως πρέπει να μιλήσουμε τα ελληνικά αντί των αγγλικών ή ισπανικών

  141. Shrimp says:

    The guys worrying that "XML" or "RSS" are too ‘specific’ or ‘technical’, and mean nothing to ‘new’ users of RSS tech. – a little broadcast icon thingey (which is actually giving a REVERSE indication of how the whole concept works), will mean just as much to them as a the orange block with white text.

    You’re basically trying to invent something *nobody* is familiar with, in contrast to something many people already know and use regularly.

    If you must use one of those, the only nice looking one there is #3.

    #1 looks very obscure, #2 is very indistinct, #4 is pretty ugly, and #5 looks like a dude with an afro or something.

  142. Dave Gregory says:

    3 and 5 have it for me..

    I like 5 more, but it does need a few minor changes to get rid of the turban/ afro look. It will get typecast. I can see it now, telling clients.. "click on the orange button of the guy in the turban." with a small change.. I really like 5 because it is the most origional.

    I would stay away from 2 and 4.

    2 takes up too much vertical screen-estate.

    4. looks too typical of firefox.

  143. Ryan says:

    I don’t like any of them. Theres nothing wrong in my opinion with the existing ones. Mostly everyone knows what the RSS and XML and Feed icons represent, You gotta leave it to M$ to go release completely opposite of what people are use to, confusing the s*** out everyone.

  144. Andy S. says:

    Of these, I like #3 the best.

  145. Colin Brown says:

    I’d vote for just the orange background and the letters "RSS" on it in white.

    Much less confusing and doesn’t leave people guessing what the icon actually means.

  146. Barry says:

    I know tool-tips will be used by Microsoft, but some people will use the icon without them, so I’d consider using initials appropriate for the user’s language while maintaining a design that’s distinct no matter the initials. I’m adding two more principles for selecting an icon:

    4. It’s easily describable in case someone needs to ask what it is.

    5. It’s not misleading as to its function.

    Icon 1 would be described as a star – easy to describe, but not very distinguishing, and very unoriginal.

    Icon 2 takes up more room than the others, and might look like there’s a line through the rectangle as opposed to a ring around it at smaller sizes or to people with bad eyesight. By the way, _all_ of the icons are too large.

    Icon 3 looks like a volume control, and the spark looks like a plus sign.

    Icon 4 looks like it’s for audio.

    Icon 5 is hard to describe.

    Back to the drawing board.

  147. Stephen G says:

    Pienso que el icono de Firefox es el mejor logro comunicativo… y deberian optar por aceptar el mismo.

  148. Louis C. says:

    Why not just use the orange RSS or XML button? Then people would be able to match up the new button with that button they’ve been seeing on news sites and blogs.

  149. steve says:

    # 2 it’s got a lot of style..looks like it belongs..

  150. theron says:

    grow up! you dont OWN rss! just use WHAT THE REST of us are using.

    why do you have to OWN something that WE have all been using for a long time?

    use the STANDARD that is already here.

  151. Suzuki says:

    #4, but … Text overlay Icon.

    I don’t walk on Icon jungle. I cannot stand mapping image and meaning.

  152. Gavin says:

    I would say to heavily consider numbers #4 and #5, and here is my reasoning (as has also been echoed by other posters):

    1) The images associated with 4 and 5 seem to indicate "action" and "transmission" more than any of the other’s, which goes along with the overall theme of RSS of "syndication" and "publication".

    2) Furthermore, #4 resembles Firefox’s existing RSS icon, so there is prescedent and it might be easier to associate with.

    I considering naming #2 because of it’s professional look, however it just seemed too empty.. Perhaps a combination of #2 and #4 or #5?

  153. Someone once said something to me regarding usability and marketing that I’ve have learned to be true time and time again. He said:

    ‘Remember, your target market is Homer Simpson’

    How true.

    I think the worst people to ask about effective icons are the genius geeks who read the RSS team blog who have IQ’s triple of Homer Simpson’s.

    They worry about ‘standards’ concerning button graphics, without realizing that Homer Simpson couldn’t give a flying flip about standards, if it means he gets easily confused.

    Homer wants a Back button with an arrow (makes sense).

    He wants a Home button with a picture of a house.

    He wants a search button with a magnifying glass.

    I never thought that RSS or XML on a button made sense. Neither tell Homer Simpson what the button does, they tell him what ‘programming syntax’ is used to define the feed of information he is subscribing to. Homer gets easily confused by that nonsense.

    Homer wants a button with a pretty picture on it, regardless of whether it meets uber-geek standards that some of the folks here want to defend.

    As geniuses, most geeks have a hard time stepping out of their world into the world that represents the other 95% of the population (the Homer Simpsons) – you’ve got to appeal to what the *majority* would feel comfortable with, not the 5% geek-geniuses.

    Take my advice, Homer gets confused by text on buttons, especially something as obscure as RSS or XML. To him, it might as well say ‘Do not click’, because the unknown scares him.

    I think, and Homer thinks, a new design for feeds is in order.

    Personally, I like #3 🙂


  154. Sammy says:

    theron – Yes, but as fate would have it, they do OWN Internet Explorer so maybe you should stop being a drama queen and shut up.

  155. WmHBlair says:

    My wife, kids, most of my relatives, and all of my neighbors don’t have a clue what the significance of "www." is. They are confused when they type in some "web site" or "internet" address, automatically adding the "www." to it, and then find that it does not work. But then, they are equally confused when they don’t type the "www." and find that it does not work. A little consistency would go a long way they all have said to me. I try to explain, but … In the same vein, they do not grasp the significance of "http://&quot; and none of them know what "URL" stands for, but a nearly all of them know that it’s an "internet" or "web" address. They all recognize what something with either "www." or "http://&quot; in front of it is. They don’t have to be told, don’t know, and don’t care, what "www." means, or what that part of the URL is supposed to indicate. To them, "www." is just part of the magic, part of the "address" or "web site." So, to me, for someone to suggest that people in general might have trouble with RSS or XML simply because it is "text" (and not some simple or fancy graphic) is simply uninformed speculation. I suspect that the vast majority of folks would have no more trouble with it than they already do with "www." or "http://&quot;.

    Up until about four years ago, I’d hear the college and high school age kids talking about their "home page." So where did that term go? I don’t know, but now everything seems to be TXT messages and IMs (and most seem to have IDs for four or more messaging clients [like AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo] and run them all the time); what I hear is "I’ll TXT (or MSG) you" and the closest thing to a home page is that said TXT message will include a link to their blog." So, here, a messaging client ID has replaced a home page URL, and blog access (whose URLs are almost always way too long to remember, much less type) is via links. Shorter is sweeter, and there’s not too much sorter than RSS or XML. But, this crowd (pre-teens, teens, and the young 20-somethings) don’t have a problem with RSS or XML. Show it to them once, and they just know it. Only the old folks have problems. Do you really care? They will learn RSS and XML just fine, just like many of them already have.

    Like most of you, I suspect, I have several successful, alert, smart, accomplished, but nonetheless perpetually technically confused neighbors (around my age: "old"). Since I pride myself on being an astute observer of maroons (so as not to give morons a bad name), and I’m always solving some "computer problem" for them (that typically exists only between their chair and the keyboard). I frequently point out or ask about things on web sites they visit (at least when I’m around). If this crowd understands something, I figure it’s sufficiently successfully established. So, after finding out about this web page and reading it, I decided to do a little survey. Much to my surprise, four already have an RSS reader installed. As I would expect, none could tell me what RSS or XML stood for. They don’t care. They just recognize the white on orange rectangle, and have delightfully pounced on it "as another form of e-mail." One asked me (now that I brought the subject up) why he doesn’t get "RSS e-mail" unless his e-mail client is running. The other three had already internalized that their RSS news reader was some sort of e-mail client that automatically picked up "news" instead of e-mail, per se, in a manner similar to what they now do when they click on their "Get Mail" icon — it just does it for them automatically, internally. They liked that, and expressed the desire that their e-mail client would do the same thing. I tried to explain the different type of e-mail servers, and that if they had the right one and, say, Outlook, it would do just that. But they were disappointed that their (our) ISP does not support that. One was happy that he now understood why his "work" e-mail was "immediate" like that, but his "personal" e-mail was not. All love RSS, and the only downside to it was the time it took to "tune it" to get just the right stuff they were actually interested in (some web sites have too many categories, or way too much traffic, and then other sites don’t have enough, or just one). My last questions were about the icon itself: What if it were a graphic, instead of the text RSS or XML? What if it said FEED or SUBSCRIBE instead? Well, SUBSCRIBE would be too long. FEED what? They don’t want to feed anything, they want to "get" something — automatically. One suggested READ. The other three asked, basically: What’s wrong with RSS or XML? It’s odd, and so won’t be confused with something else like "Go" or "Start" or "Continue." And, there’s too many un-understandable graphics on web sites now! Keep the text! They don’t want to have to figure out another silly-ass little picture of something somebody thinks is cute or suggestive (but frequently isn’t).

    I agree with them. Keep it simple, just like it is. You really can’t improve on it. Plus, you can "localize" the RSS or XML text. And, another advantage is that the "icon" can be rendered as simple text anyway, to begin with (i.e., while letters with orange background), so you don’t have to use a graphic or icon where that would simply add difficulty or to the required bandwidth. In fact, I think I’m going to convert all my RSS graphics to ordinary text where that is possible.

  156. Marc says:

    I really feel non of these are quite right as a standard icon, hence you having to ask for approval, it really should be obvious to everyone which is best. I think the best icon i’ve seen that is similar is ‘live update’ on norton antivirus software, but instead of a computer have an internet logo. Its going to confuse alot of users otherwise, it needs to be unambiguous.

  157. Carl Camera says:

    #1 doesn’t give me any sort of "feed" vibes.

    #2 looks like another of the million corporate swoosh logos

    #3 simple and connotes "broadcast"

    #4 looks like an audio icon — come to think of it so does the firefox icon!

    #5 looks like Patti LaBelle

    rather than a "dot" broadcasting in #3 you could come up with something that connotes "information" (( i )) or is "i" too latin-alphabet biased?

  158. Marcello says:

    #1 doesn’t feel dynamic to me, which I think is something important to show. I agree with one of the previous posters saying #2 is complex, lacks contrast and wouldn’t hold when scaled. #5 is to abstract for my liking and looks static.

    Leaving #3 and #4. Personally #3 is my favorite. It’s dynamix, the sparks gives it something special and for me feels like a moment of creation. I also like the fact that’s it’s bi- ( or multi)directional. Whereas the circle in #4 looks too much like a person sending in one direction. The bleeding makes it less focused than #3.

    Hope this helps 🙂

  159. Paul says:

    Don’t re-invent the wheel. The fact that not many people know what RSS means will not be solved simply by changing to a different icon.

    You’ve got to acknowledge that only the geeks are going to read feeds anyway as they aren’t as pretty as the web is. Perhaps putting RSS on a button for western languages, and an equivalent in kanji for Japanese etc. If the reader doesn’t understand the symbols on the icon, then there is no benefit in them reading the feed anyway!

  160. I prefer #3, but instead of the star shape in the center, it’ll look better with a circle. Somehow the corners make it look crude. It doesn’t go with the waves around it.

  161. Stick with the common "XML" in an orange box; it’s used by millions of sites, and people know and understand it. These are meaningless.

  162. n00b says:

    See all those people suggesting you go with the traditional icon which says XML or RSS? You can save yourself time in the future by preemptively ignoring anything they say on interface design matters. They probably think the perfect icon for representing the world wide web would be a blue rectangle which says XHTML. No thanks.

  163. GuiltySpark says:

    Erm, isn’t this icon just for the IE toolbar? What’s with all your XML/RSS zealots getting your panties in a wad? Firefox has an icon for their RSS/XML/Feed/Whatever and I don’t recall such an uproar. Geesh people, move on… To those who keep flipping out about the icon used for an actual feed on a page, "Oh people don’t know what RSS is…so let’s leave the icon the same so we can continue to keep people in the dark." Come on, get real. There does need to be some kind of standard, and I don’t think MS is really doing that here.

  164. GrandMasterJ says:

    Wow. I can’t believe how passionate some people are about this RSS icon.

    I had an idea for a sixth option. I created a logo based on MS guidelines, but instead of a star or radiating lines, I chose to use the dots and dashes of Morse Code. While being instantly recognizable around the world, the dots and dashes evoke the simple communication achieved via RSS feeds, but also portray the "digitalness" of the medium: the "dots and dashes" could be thought of as the o’s and 1’s of binary code, or the pits and flats of data on a CD or DVD.

    Check it out here:

    Just a thought.

  165. Issac says:

    Anything to drop that stupid "XML" Icon – It’s hard enough to explain to management types what XML is and why RSS is XML but XML is not just RSS.

  166. theseum says:

    Could everybody who says "use the xml icon" please shut up and listen for a second? This product is going to ship to users who not only don’t speak english, they DON’T USE LATIN CHARACTERS. So, to them, "RSS" or "XML" is a very non-intuitive meaningless combination of lines. So the best thing to do is a make a combination of lines that has intelligability outside of language. Looking at these icons, a user will at the very least say, "OK, that’s a bunch of curves" and when they see a bunch of curves in the future, they’ll know it’s the same icon. With letters, do you really expect somebody who doesn’t read Latin characters to remember if it was an ‘R’ or a ‘P’, or an ‘M’ or an ‘N’?

  167. Matt says:

    For those who keep saying the argument is all about Latin characters in a global market: <a href="">This page</a> seems to hint that Internet Explorer’s own icon is still a huge lowercase "e".

    No one seems concerned about how confusing that is in a global market. If the "e" is just a symbol, why isn’t the XML icon the same?

  168. zito says:

    I like icon no 3

  169. Luke says:

    Look, just stick with the orange rectangle with "RSS" written inside it in white text.

    Yes, text doesn’t scale too well, it is a technical term, and it may not translate too well for other languages, but, come-on!

    All the early adopters of RSS feeds used this quasi-standard, why should IE7 enforce a standard onto the community when it is so late to the party?

    Plus "RSS" being "Really Simple Syndication" works pretty well. Or do you want to change "HTML" in order to maintain international readability too?

    Leave it be guys. Please?

  170. Erik says:

    I don’t know if it’s been mentioned already – I haven’t read all the posts – but it’s very hard to indicate something dynamic using a static icon, so isn’t animation an option? Something like icon three, but with the "radiation" moving outwards. Yes I know, it would have to be designed very carefully to avoid it being distracting, but still worth considering I think.

    About the "stick to the standard" argument. The standard is the orange box. If some sites use the legend XML and others use RSS then clearly there is no standard for the contents of the box.

    Also I think the purpose of the icon design is to make the icon more understandable for the – large – segment of the internet community who don’t yet know what RSS is all about. The tech savvy minority who do know shouldn’t have to much trouble getting used to a new icon.

    Finally, I saw some responses noting the need / desire for the icon to change to unsubscribe when the user has already subscribed. This essentially changes the icon to a toggle button, with the known usability-issue that users don’t know whether the button indicates the current state or the state that will be activated by clicking. To provide an unsubscribe option, two buttons / icons are needed in radio-button fashion where one is the selected state and the other is the alternative.

  171. Nidonocu says:

    RSS may be a standard, but its true that using words detracts from its ability to work in a multilingual interface or scale well.

    My personal thoughts on each are as follows:

    1) Simple and effective. Clear lines, the star is a commonly used symbol for ‘new’.

    2) Nicer looking, but unless done as an Alpha PNG, it could look bad on some sites. And then it won’t look good in IE6.

    3) Also good, the star again. Not -quite- as bold as 1, depends how striking you wish the icon to be.

    4) Does indeed look like its something sound related. Perhapse this would be better to use as an icon for Podcasts or other audio-RSS feeds?

    5) Acceptible but I personally don’t like the upward direction of the ‘radiowaves’. They look a little squashed inside a small box.

  172. Tim says:

    Firefox uses ‘Live Bookmarks’, Opera correctly has a feed reader and uses a blue RSS button. Now IE want to do something different. Firefox have it wrong, end of! While Opera have done nothing wrong with their feed handling, they haven’t answered the question of understanding. What is RSS? Opera does nothing to spur the imagination. So is it right to try and reinvent it with IE 7? Maybe Aye, maybe nay. I favour 3 anyway.

  173. hydroxine says:

    it’s very sad to read all this stupid nonsense flaming. the icons presented on the top of this page are superb! i’d personally go for number 4. the people at microsoft should care less about some f#&§ing trolls on the RSS blog, rather than trust their innovative and creative talents!

  174. zzeng says:

    I Prefer the 4th

  175. Peter says:

    Just use a button that says "RSS". That’s the most beautiful solution.

  176. Patrik says:

    Wow, you guys are sure open about new ideas… You can’t keep call it RSS forever – should we refer to email as MIME or SMTP? And noone is renaming HTML, but we use the terms "web" and "web pages" where you might use HTML.

    Any of the bottom 3 is fine, but break up the circular lines into segments so they look more like radio waves and I’m good.

  177. Happysin says:

    None of those icons really "stands out" to me. I certinaly perfer the idea of an icon over text (after all, who knows for sure if RSS, ATOM, or XML will be relevant to broadcast a couple years from now?), but those just don’t grab me.

    I find number three the most intuitive, but that may just be the similarity to FF’s live bookmark icon.

    Maybe orange isn’t really the way to go?

    I wish I could be more helpful in suggeting better icons, but nothing better comes to me either. :

  178. Kylhwch says:

    #5 is clearly a guy in a sombrero. I think it turns on the Mariachi Channel.

    #3 is nice.

  179. David says:

    4 is BEST:

    it conveys movement, activity, direction…AND it’s closest to the Firefox icon (providing a somewhat ‘standard’ type of icon for a somewhat ‘standard’ activity, i.e., dealing with feeds)

    3 is 2nd:

    also conveys movement, but the "star" reminds me of the old Quasar electronics symbol, as well as other iconic treatments used by various manufacturers during the late 60s-70s–to me, it looks old

    2 is 3rd:

    however, the "circle going around something" has been done about 5 to the 23rd power times before by everything from telecommunications companies to healthcare, so it represents neither a specific activity (dealing with feeds) very well, nor does it stand out as an individual, identifiable brand (Microsoft)

    1 is 4th:

    it’s meaningless-empty-no sense of motion

    5 is 5th:

    don’t use this-it looks like an alien

  180. John says:

    First choice would be orange rectangle with the letters RSS in it.

    Isn’t that the standard?

    If you must do something other than the standard, I’d use the one in Firefox. Little orange radiowaves.

  181. Al says:

    FWIW, I really hate 2, 1 is just meaningless, and I’m not wild about 4. I’d probably go for 5, but that may reflect the fact that I’m British and it echoes the graphics at the start of the BBC evening news, so I’m culturally biased towards ‘seeing’ it as associated with broadcasting. I don’t think that the fact that Firefox uses a particular icon is a good or bad thing – the Homers won’t have heard of Firefox, IE should just use a symbol that works.

    Personally I like the idea of using the newspaper/magazine metaphor, using the idea of a ‘personal newspaper’ (now, if only Google News would do RSS/Atom officially ;-/). I don’t know if there’s room, but could you do something like a ‘book’ next to a sideways lightning bolt (to indicate ‘updatability’) ??? Or just a starburst on the book. (although less scalable I know) The newspaper/magazine metaphor certainly scores for ‘newness, activity, subscription, and continual information’ IMO.

    I don’t like the idea of ‘RSS’ being turned into the ‘Hoover’ of updatable news feeds (what about Atom and the others?) – and I’m enough of a SGML purist to not like the idea of ‘XML’ being hijacked by the news feed crowd either – after all, all sorts of documents are XML these days. But there’s already a precedent on the IE toolbar, of having a ‘universal’ icon plus some localised text. So for instance I have a <- Back button, my German friends presumably have <- Zuruck. Whatever the icon, there *will* be some explanatory localised text alongside it.

    I’m not sure that ‘Feed’ is necessarily the right word for the Homers, I can’t think of a better short one offhand, perhaps the best option is just to surrender to the barbarians and have RSS or XML as the adjacent text.

    As for people quibbling about the broadcast metaphor, you still have to buy a TV or radio and tune in to ‘catch’ the broadcasts. In this age of interactivity, the ‘one-way’ ness is perhaps the most distinctive thing about broadcasting. That said, I’m not wild about some of the icons that explicitly invoke the broadcast metaphor for RSS/Atom.

    [OT I know, but as my first post to IE Blog, can I just say thanks soooo much for fixing the irritating little layout bugs at long last – far more significant than any new features. Now, if the fixes can be backported onto all previous versions of IE, and then every copy of IE on the planet forcibly patched…. :-)))) ]

  182. #5 seems the best. (The Firefox icon is even better; I don’t understand why you want rectangular vs square, or agree with that requirement.) I can’t believe the number of commentators who want to use "XML". This seems so crazy. Are we going to keep that as the symbol years from now when the update mechanism moves on and doesn’t use XML at all? Why would the implementation details of this particular implementation be the name that a user would use to refer to it? Not to mention that there are millions of other things that are written in XML and *aren’t* RSS feeds. I hope you can filter out such comments without too much angst.

  183. JS says:

    Forget all 5 of those, and just go with the orange rectangle with the letters RSS inside. Simple, effective, no questions what the button does. See Firefox version 1.5, they have switched to the orange rectangle with the letters RSS inside the button. Don’t make it so hard to figure out what a button does!!

  184. Jim Rosalynne says:

    I love them and I’m glad you’re getting away from the various icons for “XML”, “RSS”, “ATOM”, and so on.

  185. M Grabowski says:

    I fail to see how any of these icons convey any more meaning than the letters RSS, XML or Feed.

    People learn what things are by figuring or trying them out. Tooltips help a lot towards theat end.

    I had an interesting expereince recetnly that may illuminate that no matter what the icon design is, the intent and meaning will not be as clear as hoped by the authors.

    I grew up in Germany at a time when traffic signs where being converted to the international standards ( ie European). 4th grade through 5th grade, iirc, we where educated as as to the meaning of those traffic sign icons ( no letters – ie language neutral). Notice the word educated?

    Recently some members of a motorcycle club ( The Yankee Beemers ) to which i belong, went to Europe for a week long tour( Germany, Italy, Austria at least). Some cemmentary was made about not being clear about understanding the traffic signs! This despite the idea of having the signs be "clear and international".

    So it doesn’t really matter what the icon is in my mind – and to that end I would argue that leaving it XML, RSS or Feed is better than coming up with yet another choice ( as the ones shown above ) that is just as meaningless as the letters we already have. None of the MS icons convey any more meanign than the current icons.


  186. Bob says:

    You should stay with the orange XML icon. All of your icons are ugly and you have ripped off Firefox once again.

  187. Dan Dautrich says:

    If I had to pick from these five, I would go for number three.

    However, I agree with others that feeds aren’t "broadcast" but rather an influx of items from various sources. How about directing the waves inward, or even using angle brackets (so as not to confuse it with audio)?: [>>+<<] I also like the idea of separate plus and minus icons depending on whether or not the current feed has been added: [>>-<<] (maybe even blend the angles with the background to show them "going away"). Or just stick with a circle or rectangle in the center if you can only use one icon: [>>•<<]

    Just my two cents…

  188. Dave says:

    Don’t needlessly reinvent the de facto standard. It works.

  189. 1- W3C doesn’t make icons.

    2- W3C is not "keeping it’s distance from RSS for now". RSS 1.0 is an application of RDF, and was released in 2000.

    3- yes we need something to replace the techy XML/RSS/Atom buttons.

    4- I don’t see any of the above doing the job.

    Cheers. 🙂

  190. -rwxrw-r-- says:

    Puleeze, I don’t want to see MickeyMouse trying to deliver any new standards to the Net, or should I say usurping existing standards? Isn’t it enough they’re dominating the desktop with their toy operating system that’s responsible for over 50% of the spam that’s circulating now and 100% of the malware? MickeyMouse should do what it does best which is offer a gaming platform for juveniles and stay away from trying to set Net standards.

  191. Rod says:

    None of the icons intuitively represent a news feed and they seem to be counter intuitive. 4 is a close copy of the FF icon.

    5 is absolutely horrible. Is that the bCental icon redux?

    There is bound to be a limit to what you can represent with little pictures, which is why alphabets were invented.

    If you don’t like XML, RSS and Atom, how about NEWS?

  192. JSG says:

    Creating YAOB (Yet Another Orange Box) will confuse more than clarify. What is the reason, business reason or otherwise, for MSFT creating a variant?

    If MSFT insists on YAOB, then Number 2 is the worst offender in the sense that it represents the greatest departure from the orange box norm.

    Number 3 would be my vote if MSFT insists on this path, but my strongest applause would be reserved for going with the standard XML and RSS graphics as they are today.

  193. Pete Brown says:

    I like the "targeting" one (#3). Perhaps part of the reason I think it best conveys the broadcast and subscription aspects, is because I have XM radio 😉

    No matter what the reason, I believe that one to be the best both aesthetically and functionally.

  194. Efrem Moraes says:

    I like the #3.

  195. Hey, the icon #4 remember me the dinamic fav from Firefox… so it remembers me more a fav than an RSS. Ok, the orage icon have to persist, but… not with this kind of icon. In spite of it when it came with the label "RSS", "ATOM", you really know what are you subscribing to. If you want to create an icon to RSS, you´ll have to create one another for ATOM feeds too.

  196. Alex Sauereressig says:

    I like the 4…

  197. Dan Ford says:

    In my opinion, RSS isn’t a "broadcast," it’s a "flow."

    I designed this:

    <img src="; border="0">

    Don’t know if anyone would like it, but feel free to take it from here.

  198. drewid says:

    I like #3 best by far. I think it is really obvious and conveyss the idea of what is happening with RSS – it is a source of something that is available to the world, and is not specific to a particular medium or type.

  199. Com certeza, o segundo(2º) mostra-se mais com design mais satisfatório, além de ainda manter um pouco do tradicional ícone, que há anos simboliza o mais completo e seguro navegador disponível.

  200. Os icones 2 e 4 estão ótimos. Mas acho que fico com o 4º porque parece um chip, bastante interessante. O 4º lembra muito o do Firefox =).

  201. Felipe says:

    Nenhum dos botões agradou muito. Talvez a cópia do firefox (4) seja o melhor, mas acho que ainda pode melhorar.

  202. Wow says:

    #3 ain’t bad. [XML] or [RSS] is too confusing for rubes.

  203. Chris says:

    What about using a spoon as the icon? Or a magnet?

  204. ricardo penachi de camargo says:

    Hi, hugs for all… about RSS icon, my idea:

  205. Alberto says:

    I like the icon 3, it really passes the impression of new information broadcast

  206. Valmir Silva says:

    The simbol that I suggest is an icon with "SEA WAVES". I think it´s perfectly represents the RSS, because they transmit an idea of a constant moviment, renew, and a lots of more ideas.Thanks.

  207. Mr. Stink says:

    Those symbols tell me nothing about what RSS is about, nor do they speak toward syndication or shared content. What’s happened to visual communication?

  208. C says:

    I applaud your efforts in making RSS a tad bit more understandable for the common user, but I also warn you not to take it too far.

    In terms of icons, they are all too complicated. The reason that the white on Orange icon is so successful is because it is easy to replicate, I can make my own in a very similar style and pop it on my website with little to know variation from the one on someone elses program. Consistency is key.

    Those icons are too complicated, from the background gradients to the strange designs on front. Remember, Keep It Simple Stupid, and everything will come into play.

  209. nyczaj100 says:

    I vote icon nr 3.

  210. Sherry says:

    Combine 2 and 4 to show movement of content over Internet.

    I asked my mom’s opinin, a true subject matter expert. She has been using the computer for a year. She loves Internet and she is over 60.

    Number 2 reminds her of Internet (she does not differentiate between Internet and IE) and number 4 the radar! Of course RSS does not mean anything to her.

    Combining 2 and 4 will convey search over Internet to her! (I should send this to google, I guess)

    To convery broadcasting over Internet she suggeted to add a radio tower to the combination of 2 and 4! Not sure if that works.

  211. Michael says:

    Why not a ticker tape type icon… Or a newspaper deliveryboy type thing… maybe take a cue from outlook and im and just have the tagline of the feed popup. I mean seriously do you click on your letter icon in IE to get to Outlook?? or the MSN character?? I keep my web based reader open in a tab anyway, maybe you should go with that.

    Now if you are talking about having an icon for feeds that websites need, I’m sorry but it’s too late. If anything, learn from the Push / ActivePage / Channel thing that came out with IE 4!

    Good luck storming the castle!!

  212. Enzo says:

    i select de #2, because this is universal, the RSS is distribuid and receive for people,

    sorry my english i don’t speak english…

  213. Wellington says:

    the best is the number 3

  214. Holverat says:

    Hello all, I like the number 4

  215. Alan says:

    Number 4 (FOUR)!

    It’s the closed to other browsers’ symbols, which is GOOD.

    Else, #3.

  216. AndreGP says:

    I think that the orange square is already knowed for all the people that already use RSS, so this graphic, or some visual mention to this graphic could help.

    I think the 2 is weak, because is a meaning that requires a reflection about the usage of the tecnology, and dont tell nothing about the process, like information, updates, …

  217. I’d say #4… but would follow what someone already said about the bleeding!

    Use #4 and make it look closer to firefox’s icon! that way you’d follow a "pattern" (noticed I didn’t say "standard" :p) and would be easily disassociated from any audio icons, if it was diagonal to the rectangle! :S

    just my 0.02 🙂

    ~Levi F.

  218. Eric K. says:

    Turn the ‘spark’ diagonal so it resembles an X.


  219. Xavier G. says:

    what kind of navel-gazing crap is this? are there so many employees at Microsoft that this is the kind of work that’s being handed down?

    there’s nothing wrong with the current RSS icons.

    don’t confuse the users.

    do some real work.

  220. Douglas L says:

    If it’s absolutely necessary to replace the letters "RSS" just replace them with the keyboard characters ">>>" using the same flat orange rectangle background. It supports the concept and keeps it "really simple".

  221. Pedro says:

    You should use the #2 but with some journal or paper on the center…

    I think users make a relantionship between these journal icons and information.

    The waves are a good idea to the broadcast connotation as well as a globe…

  222. Jon Th. says:

    I’m a total novice computer user, stumbled upon this blog when reading about the next version of Windows, and I really love the logo nr. 2

  223. milki says:

    how about everything and letting each user choose individually

  224. PXLated says:

    Keep it an orange box with RSS and do what Dave says. Doesn’t matter what the Yahoo study says, in the beginning nobody knew what "www" stood for either, now they usually do.

    None of these symbols convey a thing, they all need explanation so you’re not gaining a thing over a simple orange RSS box.


    #5 sucks by the way!

  225. Frank Jonen says:

    picture this: I’m blind. Now tell me what to click on to get your feed.

  226. rss says:

    > picture this: I’m blind. Now tell me what to click on to get your feed.

    A great question. IE 7 can optionally play a special sound when a feed is found on the page, so visually-impaired users know when there’s a feed.

    The feed discovery information is also available from the menus (under the Tools menu).

    btw, thanks to everyone for all of the great comments.

    We’re reading all of the feedback, and checking out every icon that people are pointing to.

    – Sean

  227. Mifuyne says:

    I feel the usage of the brackets as a way of representing an RSS feed may/can be confused with sound. It may be a broadcast, but we’re not really hearing anything (unless I was blind…).

    #2 is too ambiguous that you can use it for just about anything that involves movement and it’ll be justifiable.

    Out of the five you guys have, I would prefer #3. It could be interpreted differently, but relative to what it’s being used in, I would probably see it more as an RSS feed button than anything else…

  228. Mike says:

    Three for me. Symmetry and spark.

  229. RSS or XML in white letter on orange is still my pick. I haven’t heard a good enough reason to change it and I haven’t heard a good reason why it is bad.

    1. "It uses letters that people don’t understand." So does DVD, CNN, CBS, etc. People don’t care about the meaning behind branding, they understand the brand. Don’t work against that.

    2. "Don’t use letters in an icon." Using letters is a plus because you can make the icon yourself. If you make an icon that your graphic designers came up with, YOU own the icon, period. I can make an XML icon in photoshop all by myself. I can make it in html without even having to use photoshop. I can’t make ANY of those icons above.

    3. "RSS will be outdated but we’ll still have feeds." When was the last time you made a carbon copy of a letter? I’m guessing it might actually be "never". But you still click the "CC" button to copy people on emails, right? And, yes, "CC" in your email program is an example of points 1 and 2, as well.

  230. Su says:

    I’m just imagining trying to describe the icons to a user over the phone…’RSS’ is a lot easier

  231. David says:

    You should follow the W3C’s recommendation and use the typical icon [XML].

    Please, don´t lose time on these cuestions, and try to make a better product.

  232. Andri says:

    Shannon say he is yet to hear a good reason for not using the RSS/XML icons. Last week we had a number of blogs reporting that most user don’t have a clue about what RSS is (About 10% know what it is and are using ti). I would recommend using a word like "subscribe" or a similar word that every one can understand. People subscribe to all sorts of things like newspapers, cable television and so on. Why not stick to that and people won’t have to learn a new silly word for a feature they already know how works even though it’s new to them on a particular medium.

  233. Please use either XML or RSS – the web is covered with these already – its become a standard. Doesn’t the IE ‘Encoding’ icon break the Non-Latin rule with the use of Latin letters?

    Su is correct, it is easy to describe ‘Clicking the icon that says RSS’ over the phone or on a podcast – try doing that with any of the proposed designs. The star (1) looks too much like the current IE favourites icon and would cause confusion. I’m up for 3 or 4 if push comes to shove.

    Going against the evolved standards will be one of those things that will be held against Microsoft – there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The BBC website has adopted the RSS icon – that seems a fairly popular website.

  234. Uche says:

    I like no.3 the best. someone suggested about animation, well what if we change the star shape in no.1 to the shape in no.3 and have that as the default icon for RSS. When there is information being broadcasted, we add the waves so the icon changes to no.3 but animated.

  235. Peter Lennon says:

    2 – The ring illustrates movement around a feed.

    é mais bonito


  236. malkontent says:

    none. any other options?

    imho all of them are quite (huj0w3…

  237. Marcelo Baltar says:

    (3) is the best one, IMHO

  238. Craig says:

    They’re all terrible, can I see the next attempts? 🙂

  239. Al says:

    Ask a stupid question expect stupid answers..

    you started the post with :

    "It’s great that a discussion of icons has recently restarted in the RSS community. We are in the process of figuring out what icon to use on our toolbar in IE7 to represent feeds"

    Thats the big mistake. The icon which you refer to does not represent the feed (rss/atom/xml whatever).

    The icon which you refer to represents :

    "Please add the feed which is referred to in this page to my personal subscriptions."

    so it’s like adding something (like adding a contact to outlook or whatever). It’s about adding!

    Thus if you use an icon please use an icon that represents adding (several examples have been linked in the comments)

    And please do not persist with these broadcast metaphors (icons), feeds are the antiophesis of broadcast, only a big company like Microsoft make that kind of basic error.

    As for the ‘Feed’ icon there is already a definition of a feed on the page as an icon, in fact several : orange rectangle with white xml/rss/atom/feed take your pick. This is not up for discussion poppularity will determine the winner anyhow Microsoft should not get involved just produce a decent standards supporting btowser please.

    So in summary the on page icons for feeds already exist let them fight it out for the standard by default. You guys should just concern yourself with solving the "Add to my subscriptions" icon, which should follow whatever internal GUI design guidelines you having for the ‘adding’ process, and leave the flame starting blog post like this.

    Your time is better spent improving standards support…



  240. Preston says:

    Why is everyone picking on Microsoft for inventing a new icon? Firefox did it, Bloglines did it, Yahoo! did it, yadda yadda. At least they are basing their icon on the general standard and making it small and rectangular (more than can be said about Yahoo, Bloglines).

  241. Nathan says:

    I think you should use the standard icons.

  242. Mirai says:

    I think that the fourth is comprehensible.

  243. jd says:

    Come on. Do not reinvent the wheel!

  244. Mike says:

    My God. Listen to all the whiners. Please people, does it MATTER? Why not spend YOUR collective time improving YOUR code, or better yet – end poverty, drunken driving, retarded customer service folks and so on.

    Stop whining over something so insignificant. And, Microsoft, why did you have to post this? My reader is now fully of WHINERS!

  245. jambalaya says:

    I think they’re all flawed.

    Especially the three last ones bring associations of some audio functionality. RIA with sound on/off, duh …

    Anyways, it doesn’t really matter since you will have your own particular interpretation of the world, while the rest of us will try and live in the real world.


  246. MIT says:

    We liked all of them.

  247. Stephens says:

    I liked the first one the most.

  248. Eduardo ( Brasil - RJ ) says:

    I prefer number 2.

  249. Anon says:

    Icon RSS is for reading notice. OK? Therefore the ideal icon must contain a periodical (jornal, news) drawn with the transmitted notice being.


    Mensagem original em Prtuguês.

    O ícone dos RSS é para ler notícia. OK?

    Portanto o ícone ideal deve conter um jornal desenhado com as notícias sendo transmitidas.


  250. generalsurgeon says:

    Stick with the globally accepted white text on orange like everyone else you morons.. RSS and XML are now symbols and even retarded americans will eventually be able to associate their shape with what they mean..

  251. John says:

    He’s blunt, he’s brutal, but he’s oh, so right. This needs to be consistent across browsers and sites, so that users understand that the function is the same wherever they are. New art doesn’t help. Keep it simple.

  252. Frank Jonen says:

    I think the Startfleet icon set you have there should remain in the Star Treck universe.

    Podcast / Radio example:

    To subscribe to our news click on the orange button that has a white sparkling star on it to subscribe to our newsfeed within IE7.


    To subscribe to our news click the white on orange RSS button.

    I know that MS isn’t big on simplicity or the web in general, but I think it’s worth considering.

    Why RSS and not XML? I feel that using XML is wrong, XML can be anything. From an RSS feed to an outline or a video format, a database scheme a font format. With being concise about it and calling it by what it is everybody is much better off.

    With calling it XML you’d express that this link leads to something that is marked up in XML. Where will that link take me? To a Word file? To an OPML outline? To the reel log of a movie? To an XHTML website? – It’s simply not clear what the XML that you link to is used for. A really bad user experience.

    Apple did good by using the RSS button. Blue’s not my favorite color but you get my point.

    Did you think about doing a subtle orange woosh behind the address field of the browser with a sound attached to it for alerting the user of an RSS feed, blue swoosh for ATOM. Website could even have custom XML files on their server root to provide own underlays and sounds for this, just like we do with robots.txt files.

    But in general, swoosh with sound, sound can be disabled in the menu. A little button appears next to the address bar saying "subscribe" – one click, boom you’re done.

    Ta – Frank

  253. Frank Jonen says:

    Before you go Klingon on me, I meant STAR TREK, of course… 😉

  254. spongepuppy says:

    Why bother asking for feedback from such thankless people?

    Another excellent example of how blogs are frequented by overzealous fanatics who don’t have anything useful to say. IE team, if there is a working group dedicated to these formats [eg. like WaSP], just talk to them instead of letting every "UI Designer" have his/her worthless 2 cents.

  255. Grant says:

    Stick with the orange lozenge with the white ‘RSS’ or ‘XML’ text. They’ve been around long enough; just because many people don’t know what RSS is doesn’t make the icons useless. What makes anyone think they’ll underttand an orange icon with something else on it any better ? None of these icons represents what RSS is all about – most look like Star Trek logos or buttons to click to play a sound. Please leave things as they are rather than introducing yet further confusion. I didn’t know what RSS was until about 6 months ago, but when I took the time to read up on it I picked it up right away. Perhaps we should be educating users instead of trying to reinvent the graphic equivalent of the wheel.

  256. Simon says:

    For goodness sake, stick with the standard orange XML button. You’re just going to confuse things if you create something different. Everyone got the hang of WWW didn’t they?

  257. Parky says:

    How about include both the XML text and images or better yet a bunch of MS and community standard ones and allow the user to plug in their own. If everyone got the hang of WWW why can you get away with not putting the www. prefix in the the URL.

  258. MalG says:

    I do not know what is wrong with the existing icons for this all over the internet – the defacto ‘standard’ orange XML button et al. Why reinvent the wheel?


  259. eSkiSo says:

    I made two new orange icons, se what you think of it..

    I like more of the 2º… Tell me whar you all think..

  260. Nigel Paice says:

    Leave it alone and let W3C decide. You are not the only web developer or browser on the market. Please stop trying to impose the microsoft will on the global conciousness. Try working out the bugs that IE has rather than playing at the grown up equivalent of ‘colouring in’. It’s not your decision to make

  261. David Burns says:

    The fact that this is even up for debate illustrates just how confusing RSS is to end-users.

    Has any one of you try to sell the concept to a common person? Perhaps a parent? Perhaps a co-worker? Perhaps a non-tech savvy friend?

    Here’s the deal. People who get the idea think its wonderful. They’re sold. People though who don’t know what it is don’t know what those orange rectangles are and since every CMS in the world, every blog platform, every big web site does RSS their own way (From text links to their own styling of the button), having a consistent rectangle that IE pushes (meaning finally a stand will be forced) means more adoption of RSS which is ultimately the goal.

    Who cares if its Microsoft who does it? The best thing in the world would be for Microsoft to make it an easy icon so PEOPLE WOULD FINALLY USE IT.

    BTW, I’m sold on #3.

  262. jd says:

    I insist,what a waste of time. There are already recognized rss buttons.

  263. chillyman says:

    You critics are the only one wasting your time.

    How many times haven’t we heard you poor arguments already? Please get a sense for creativity (or at least grow some common sense) before you start rambling about what is "standard". Microsoft is being innovative because that’s their business. Thinking out of the box is what makes us do better things. Clearly Dave Whiner & Co has failed to understand that. As hard to believe this may seem to you people, not everyone understands (much less care) what the letters RSS or XML stands for.

    While the white-text-on-orange-look is commonly used by big websites it is by NO means a de-facto standard. Although it has been widely adopted. I see that Microsoft is trying to provide an alternative that is closely related to the guidelines of the present IE icons. You in-house geeks need to realize that. It’s not like their making a whole new type of thing here, basically it’s still the same colours and similar graphics already suggested before.

    I’d say the average Joe, finds the XML association confusing. XML is a technical term whereas feeds is more of a concept. If you want a good descriptive icon for the average Joe, then you should go with an icon that essentially represents "active content" rather than broadcasting, like the icon used for "channels" back in the days of IE4.

    I’m very confident Microsoft will take these constructive opinions into consideration in contrast to all the negative criticism. And it will be confirmed once they finally decide which option to implement. For the rest of you damned geeks – this is NOT about reinventing the wheel so QUIT COMPLAINING and learn that everything in the world changes, RSS/XML icons are no exception.

  264. chillyman lover says:

    Can you make it purple? With a happy face?

    I like Barney.

  265. "Feed" is of no use to the non-English speaking community (oh, I guess if you just made it BIG ENOUGH …)

    And RSS/XML is of no use to those of us using ATOM.

    I like Halo2 — if you create an icon which reasonable represents the concept, people will figure it out. Since we moved to WYSIWYG/CUI, we’ve all learned a lot of icons we didn’t know before. Stop underestimating people.

  266. Use the XML links generator we have just released, it allows text styles, variable language icons and feed: URI compatibility.

  267. Hey …Your comments and findings are more than fascinating !! I haven’t enabled comments on my blog, but I do sometimes wish there was a way to allow a sense of community such as livejournal provides….anyway thank you !!!

  268. Kevin Gerich says:

    I think #3 is very nice, though I’d like to see these mockups at the size they need to be to fit on the IE toolbar. Great that you’re going with an image for feeds rather than an acronym that’s meaningless to most people.

    FYI: A post I made a while back about the evolution of the Firefox live bookmark icon.

  269. Deren Smith says:

    Images aren’t showing 🙁

  270. mark says:

    Can you let the rest of us in Redmond know what gets decided so that we follow suit?

    And to those who say just stay with "X" or "Y" — those icons aren’t old enough to be set in stone. Would you have stuck with the Model T since it has wheels and an engine just like all cars today?

  271. kiji says:

    "How many times haven’t we heard you poor arguments already? Please get a sense for creativity (or at least grow some common sense) before you start rambling about what is "standard". ..As hard to believe this may seem to you people, not everyone understands (much less care) what the letters RSS or XML stands for." by Chillyman…

    I always thought standards are based on Common Sense, "just being creative" is not. Not everyone may, at present, know what RSS or XML stand for, but so what? How many webusers know what HTML or XHTML stands for? Still people can surf and know that html is to be read in a browser, not by a media player. Within a few years most webusers with a brain will know that clicking that orange icon will get them a feed.

    Microsoft has been messing up with standards by "just being creative" too long. Again, they want their icon/feature to be the general standard. Now guess what, the white on orange RSS or XML may not be a w3c standard, but it is a de facto standard, why change it? Just to be able to boast, or ask for license fees?

    If every browsermaker would call rss feeds just feeds or just RSS (rather than whatever they lfancy, like "live bookmarks") it would make things much easier for users. Who would know that RSS=FEED=LIVE BOOKMARK? Not the ordinary user. So use an figurative icon, without rss or xml? same problem; IE will have its icon and another for the same feed in IE8 and another for outlook, FF will have another, Opera again something different. An icon does not allways make things easier. Take icon 5 for example; turn it 90degrees counterclockwise and people may well think it stands for podcast as it looks like an ear.

    People are getting used to this white and orange icon now; let it be. All large pages (cnn, bbc, wired…) use the orange rss-icon allready. What do you loose by sticking with the present de facto standard orange/white rss?

    There’s more to loose, for the users, by changing icons or names for the same feature.

  272. Tracey says:

    I personally think that the icon for all sites should be a feed bag with documents flying in and out of it.

  273. zzz says:

    Like the majority says, the third is best out of these five but I would not go with any of these.

    I might go with a icon of something resembling a news or a toilet paper perhaps if nothing better won’t come up though.

    The color is quite awful too, hopefully it’s not visible much atleast if it’s going to be so big in size.

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