Despite all the hype and fuss surrounding RSS recently, for
the majority of mainstream Internet users, RSS still remains
a mysterious orange button sitting on your web site. They are
totally unaware of this new method of syndicating information
on the web.
This is not necessarily bad news!
For many Internet users are enjoying the benefits of RSS
while remaining totally clueless as to its function or
how it works. Programs like ‘MyYahoo’ and the RSS empowered
Firefox Browser are letting surfers access RSS and enjoy
its major benefits without having any or no knowledge of it.
In the very near future when Microsoft introduces its new RSS
powered Longhorn Browser and operating system – this situation
will hopefully continue. Internet users should be able to enjoy
all the benefits of RSS without having to know what it is!
Users don’t have to know ‘DOS’ or even ‘HTML’ to enjoy the full
benefits of the Internet and their computers. RSS should fall
into this same category. It would quickly bring RSS into the
mainstream without having to overcome a long learning curve.
However, until RSS is blended seamlessly into web sites and
browsers, there remains one major problem with RSS. Most
browsers can’t access the RSS feed directly. When many surfers
click that little orange button on your site, they get a jumbled
code or worst, their browser freezes. Many will depart your site
scratching their heads or saying a few choice words in the direction
of your site. Not a pleasant situation for anyone.
At the heart of the problem, an RSS Feed must be accessed by
aggregators or an RSS feed (news) reader like Newsgator or an
RSS empowered browser like Firefox which has a ‘Live Bookmark’
feature that basically updates your bookmarks or feeds with RSS.
A direct link to an RSS feed just won’t work with most browsers.
Webmasters must fix this problem. You must fix this problem.
You must make your site RSS User-Friendly. You should realize by now,
every web site visitor counts. Besides, its just good net etiquette.
Here are some simple solutions to help alleviate this problem
and make your site more RSS-Friendly:
1. Don’t just place the orange RSS button on your site. Always
include a link ‘What is This?’ beside it. Have this link leading
to a page explaining what RSS is and how your visitors can
access and use it. This has a two-fold benefit; visitors who are
familiar with RSS will know how to use the button, visitors who
are in the dark can get a quick education in RSS 101! Here’s an
example I have on my site.
‘What Is RSS?’.
You are welcome to use this page on your site if you’re pressed for
time. Just copy it and upload it to your site or link directly to it.
It will do in a pinch!
2. As mentioned before some browsers can Automatically discover
or Access your RSS feed. The Firefox Browser is a prime example.
To facilitate or aid in this AutoDiscovery process place a simple
code in the HEAD section of your webpage’s HTML code:
(link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml”
Just don’t forget to replace the ( and ) characters with in your web page code. Also, place in your OWN feed!
3. Of course, many webmasters use many RSS buttons on their site to
guide their visitors in the right direction. For example, placing
a ‘MyYahoo’ button will make it easier for visitors using that
program to access your RSS feeds. Bloglines and MyMSN buttons
are other examples. Some webmasters even design their OWN RSS
button for their sites. Just remember to place your ‘What is This?’
link beside it.
4. However, if your visitor is not using an aggregator or RSS equipped
browser, they will still get the jumbled code that will be puzzling to
them. One way around this problem is to use a free service from Feedburner.com
and have your RSS Feed transformed or presented so that if can be read
in your visitor’s browser. Instead of linking your orange button directly
to your RSS feed, use the Free link from Feedburner in its place. Your web
site visitors will then be able to read your feeds but they will also still
be able to subscribe to your RSS feed.
More information on what this looks like here:
5. Perhaps, using the same system above, an easier and friendlier
solution to use is a Headline Animator from Feedburner. This will display your
RSS feed headlines on your site in a very User-Friendly way. Anyone wanting
to subscribe to your feed can do so by clicking this Headline Animator. It
will also provide your visitors with information and headlines about your
feed’s content. Plus, it will give them a real sampling of your feed. It will
immediately make your website more RSS-Friendly.
RSS is the wave of the future. It will play an ever increasing role in
how information is exchanged on the web. Make sure your site is RSS
User-Friendly so that you can take full advantage this new technology.
Make sure your site is a pleasant RSS experience for all your visitors,
it will not only put your site in a more favorable light, but it will
also make your site more competitive in a very competitive world.
So for your visitor’s benefit and your own, make your site RSS-Friendly
right now. Don’t delay. Just do it. Your visitors will thank you in more
ways than one.