"Times" is an RSS reader for Mac by Acrylic Software
RSS feeds haven’t actively gained mainstream adoption, but have provided a great service to the people that don’t want to have the potential of missing something that they wanted to see. Essentially, an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed is a file on a Web site that only contains the content, and separates each update into an individual post with a timestamp of when the update was made. The website design completely removed from the content if the user is really only interested in the content. People can then subscribe to that one URL using an RSS reader (I will go into more detail about this below) and they will be notified when there’s been an update made to your site and how many updates that have yet to read.
If a user stumbles across an RSS feed, it might be something that they haven’t used before and don’t really understand the benefits of subscribing to it. There’s a few things that are making this adoption process easier for the user. Most modern web browsers are including RSS readers so that the content is displayed the way a user can understand when you visit an RSS feed. For the publishers out there, you might look into using a service like Feedburner to enhance your feed. The services that Feedburner include a user-friendly interface, analytics, sharing functionality, promoting your feed to news hubs, email subscriptions, and more. You can visit our feed that’s been sent through feedburner at http://feeds.feedburner.com/HRB and check out what would show up without feedburner here. The next post I’ll write will address the concerns you may have of possible lost traffic to your website resulting in lower ad revenue or leads, because people are using RSS feeds to bypass directly visiting your site.
The beauty of the RSS feed isn’t the fact that it’s once place to go for all of your content, but rather the nearly endless options of how you want to go about reading it. The RSS readers out there allow you to put all of your RSS feeds in one place. At that point you can choose how you want to be notified when there’s a new post on any of the feeds you’re subscribed to so you never need to visit a website just to find out that they haven’t updated anything on it. The range of RSS readers offer a variety of ways to interact with your feeds. Google Reader is a powerful feed reader that is simple to use, has unique community features with other people who use it, and keeps track of your reading patterns to show you the stuff you’re more interested first based on your past behaviors. There’s also applications for both Mac and Windows that you might choose to use also. There’s one that caught my eye, called Times (Mac only), that styled your feeds as if you were reading a newspaper, and when you click on the headline it shows the full article either as a new page in the “newspaper” or as the actual site where the article is located. This might be an interesting way to go if people start using tablet computers (such as the iPad) where this is provides a newspaper-like experience that shows you what you want to read and nothing that you don’t while also including high-resolution photos and videos.
RSS is a very basic and universal capability that sites can take advantage of. In fact, podcasts became popular once people started utilizing RSS feeds to take care of distributing the new episodes to the subscribers as soon as it’s available. If you’ve never tried using RSS feeds to go about reading the blogs or news sites that you frequent, I recommend that you first find an RSS reader that appeals to you (considering that’s what you’re going to be using to read everything), add the feeds of a few websites, and give it a try for a short while. You might find it’s not for you, but you might also find it a great time-saver or a nicer way to go about staying up-to-date with the sites you frequent.