A Standard Symbol for RSS?

    December 15, 2005

One of the topics Shel and I discussed with Rick Klau of FeedBurner during our FIR podcast interview with him on Tuesday was about the challenges of helping ‘normal’ people understand what RSS is.

The acronym itself and the little orange icons with ‘RSS’ or ‘XML’ you see everywhere really are not helpful to the average person in helping him or her understand what this RSS thing is. Even if you read a definition such as the Wikipedia entry, most people would still be completely non-plussed.

As we discussed in our conversation, we should be telling the RSS story that focuses on ‘subscribing’ not on weird acronyms, and talking about this technology in terms that benefit the user, in ways that people can understand.

Now we could have one step towards a standard visual clue as to what RSS means with news yesterday that Internet Explorer 7, due next year, will include the same RSS icon as Firefox uses. This is it:

From a post in the Microsoft Team RSS Blog yesterday:

[…] We’ll be using the icon in the IE7 command bar whenever a page has a feed associated with it, and we’ll also use it in other places in the browser whenever we need a visual to represent RSS and feeds. Look for more details on the look and feel of IE7 when we post the public pre-release build next year.

Collaboration and agreement between Microsoft and Mozilla. A small but significant step.

Now it needs everyone out there who has a website or blog and who offers an RSS feed to also adopt this new icon and thus help make it become a standard. I’ll do my bit as soon as I see it there on Microsoft’s Presspass RSS subscriptions page.

Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.