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June 19, 2006

Why every website needs RSS pronto

If your website isn't running RSS, you need to get it now. I'm trying to get our web team to implement it ASAP. Here's why:

Last week I mentioned that I downloaded Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 (from here on out, it's IE). As you probably know, IE is the most popular web browser on the planet, with almost 90% of desktops running it. Now, other web browsers like Firefox and Opera have been offering this feature for a long time, but IE7 now includes RSS feed aggregation directly inside the application. This means IE can now replace third party software or services like FeedDemon or or Bloglines or any of the scores of other RSS feed aggregators. It also means that people who have never known what RSS is can now find feeds and subscribe to them. And they don't have to give up their ignorance about RSS, which is a good thing.

This screenshot shows how IE7 alerts the user that an RSS feed is available for the page being viewed. You can see on the toolbar in the screenshot that there's an orange button circled in red. That button is gray until IE7 discovers a feed. When a feed is discovered, it turns orange to let users know about it. The user can then decide whether or not to subscribe.

It won't be long until IE7 is out of beta, and as soon as it is, RSS usage will skyrocket because users won't need any special applications or have to sign up for a web based aggregator any longer. If you're not serving up a feed by the time IE7 starts hitting most desktops, you'll start getting emails and comments from members saying, "where's your syndicated content?" Why not beat them to the punch? Get RSS now.

Notice that the button doesn't say XML or RSS. This is the Firefox RSS icon that Microsoft has adopted to help standardize the way users find syndicated content. Notice that I've also got the same button on my blog for each feed I offer. If you have a ton of those feed chicklets on your blog or web site, get rid of them and standardize.

The great thing is that you don't need special software to create RSS feeds for your members. FeedYes will take virtually any web page and create an RSS feed to update users when the page is edited. So, if you're a member of my association, and you want an RSS feed for our homepage, here you go.


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