RSS subscription usability

[Veen]( brings up a good point about the [usability of subscribing to RSS feeds](

With the rollout of feeds on our [paid sports site](, and as we’re beginning to roll out feeds on [](, it’s a question I’ve tried to tackle.

We did the XSL thing on [ajcsportsPlus](, but I have my worries about it.

I can easily see my mother bookmarking that page to read headlines, rather than getting all the benefits of an aggregator. Yes, despite the fact that our transformed page says not to bookmark it and it does point you to our help page, I still think folks might skip past that as their eyes go into “find the content I want” mode.

Though it may be jarring, displaying the raw XML might prompt users to hit the back button and click on the “What’s this?” link we provide next to all our feeds.

That solution, though, feels like you’re purposefully letting a child touch a hot kettle just so they’ll learn their lesson.

There are two outcomes: the child might learn to use a pot holder when reaching for something hot and the user might click the help link or they might never touch the stove/feeds again.

Maybe instead of a sheet showing the content and instructions, the XSL should render a splashy page that would give instructions for getting and subscribing to aggregators (with screenshots or a screencast). It could tout the benefits of RSS — “It’s like Tivo for news” or some such.

About Chris

Python developer, Agile practitioner trying desperately not to be a pointy haired boss.
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1 Response to RSS subscription usability

  1. Agreed, the XSLT doesn’t really help drive subscriptions.

    I created the following two that do a much better job.

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