Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Usability Tips For RSS Newsfeeds

While RSS continues to escalate in popularity as a viable distribution medium for content, issues about how to make newsfeeds more accessible and easy to use are just now emerging.

It must be said, that being the application of RSS feeds highly varied and differentiated among publishers, guidelines that make a feed usable and more effective for one, can be as much detrimental to another one.

Consider for example the difference in attitude and goals between a research or non-profit, development organization needing to keep up-to-date information to a great number of people dispersed in poorly connected countries with the needs of an independent publisher like me who wants to facilitate and extend reach while bringing back (at least for now) readers to my Web sites for in depth information.

In my case, providing only a short news excerpt with a link bac to the full article on my site, provides for a lighter and more scannable experience which my type of readers demand, and the ability to expose them to commercial contextual ads and sponsorships that allow me to run a sustainable publishing business. (In a near future I may able to better capitalize the potential of RSS newsfeeds for effective sponsorship and relevant product promotion, but until a capable provider brings together some of the key components that can make this possible without destroying the strong signal-to-noise ratio that RSS feeds seem to command, I have no other way but send out short scannable info bursts and give full stories with relevant contextual ads on my sites.)

So, the following list of RSS usability issues is only a starting point, taken from a point of view that may not exactly match your own.

Check it through and add your contribution of what maybe other relevant aspects that you feel should be addresses by online publishers in trying to realize more accessible RSS newsfeeds.

Possible Usability Issues in RSS Newsfeeds

1) Disguised or Unworkable Links

2) Too Little Content In The Newsfeed

3) Citation Not Clearly Marked As Such

4) Updates Not Marked As Such

5) Too Many Articles Per Day or Too Few Content Categories

6) Links To Access-restricted Content Not Clearly Marked As Such

7) Nested Feeds

8) Confusion Between Authors And Categories

There are really a ton more issues out there that can help us do a better job of this RSS publishing business.

Are you willing to share your own?

Learn more at where this interesting work just started.

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posted by Robin Good on Thursday, August 26 2004, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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