It may be that I’m a woman or that I simply do not want to know the details, but if I’m going to use a site consistently, then it needs to be easy on the eye as well as on the brain. If the new do-dad or widget or what have you requires that I spend more than thirty minutes clicking, dragging and dropping, then it better have a greater than 80% success ratio or I’m not going to waste any more time than it takes to click and move on.
Call it short attention span, call it small IQ, call it whatever you like, but the reality is there are so many sites out there that even my one year old niece can figure out, that to expect the average user to be more than that, is in my opinion, completely insane. The general public uses the internet as a means of instant gratification because we no longer have the inclination or the time to spend hours, days, weeks or months plowing through old news files, reference books or day timers. We want our news, gadgets and blogging tools within easy reach of fuzzy slippers, sweats and fresh coffee.
So with that in mind I thought we’d take a look at RSS feeders; what they are, how to use one and why your name needs to be on one.
What is a RSS feed?
An RSS feed (Real Simple Syndication) is a simple software program that allows you, the reader, to organize your online news from as many sources as you like, as well as giving you a one page dashboard where you can bookmark your favorite bloggers, writer’s, commentators ,quotes and recipes (for that multi tasked individual who is able to write full-time and still present the family with four to five gourmet meals a week) as well as have your Twitter right in front of you (which let’s face it, makes one less tab you need to have open on your browser [and if your laptop is as old as mine, that means one less thing that will slow it down]).
So what does this have to do with tools for Bloggers?
One of the keys to developing our skills as writer’s, bloggers and platform builders is ‘reading’. We read when we watch TV (be honest, we all keep a book open on our laps in order to avoid listening to commercials that are longer than the program is), ride a bus, sit in the doctor’s office and at two in the morning because we refused to listen to our better half when they suggested decaf might be a wiser choice following the six thirty news. It’s like oxygen for deep sea diver’s; without it we’d go into respiratory bends and find ourselves painting ceramics instead (I personally I like ceramics, it’s just that I like writing better.).
And though we won’t be loading our newest Goodread on a RSS board, we would put information that is pertinent to improving and honing our craft. Such our subscription to Publisher’s Weekly, Digital Book World or Jane Freidman’s Writing on the Ether.
Using a RSS reader board gives us one click access to all those sites we use for research, encouragement and that twelve o’clock donut break. It keeps us up to date on current posts as well as helps us to keep the back tracking down to below a .5 on the frustration scale (degree varies, depending on amount of caffeinated product consumed before noon).
How to use your RSS feed.
Since I like simple and easy with a better than 80% guaranteed chance of success, I’ve chosen iGoogle as my reader board. Not that there aren’t other’s such as; Attensa, Blogline, Feed Demon, Net Newswire, Sharp Reader or News Gator. But as I’ve not had time to try these out (except for Blogline , which I am currently in the process of timing the drag and drop factors on) I can’t comment. But if you want my advice (and I’m assuming since your reading this blog you do), find the one that works for you, gives you the easiest access and takes little or no time to add new feeds to.
When I first clicked onto iGoogle, I have to admit I came very close to slipping below the half way demarcation point of degree of frustration , as their Add Feed gadget wasn’t easy to find (and then of course when I went back the second time I couldn’t remember where I’d found it the first time and had to start all over again). But once I wrote it on a post-it (thank God for post-its) and tacked that puppy to the top of my lap top, one or two more excursions into the back pages of my dashboard and I was good to go.
Plus they have a nice selection of dashboard themes (mine is of mountains that change every time I log in) which believe it or not, makes it easy on the eye to read.
And as an added treat, some reader’s such as iGoole, let you create files so that you can arrange your reading by subject, giving your inner A-Type personality that sense of control and efficiency it needs to get through the day.
Is ease of accessibility and pleasant ascetics important? Only if you expect people like me to actually use it. As I said before, if I have to spend too much time hunting around the site, I won’t. But now that I’ve figured out how to use my iGoogle reader board, I love it. It’s like one-stop-shopping. All my favorite reads in one place so if I’m looking for an article I want to use in this blog post or am simply taking a well-earned five-minute break and want something to read while I relax and sip my third cup of joe for the morning, I know that instant gratification is only a click away.
Why should your name be on one?
For the same reason Jane Freidman, Nina Amir, Hubspot and Books & Such Literary Agency are on mine: its part of creating our social media platform. We get up on someone’s reader board when what we have to say is interesting enough that someone other than our mother’s want to follow us.
Next time we’ll look at how to use the RSS feature on our blog site to our advantage as well as some tips (I hope without post-it notes) on how to navigate through the reader board and make it your own. And before I forget, I need to give credit to where credit is due by saying that it was an article written by Rachelle Gardner for Books & Such Literary Agency titled, How to Read More Blogs In Less Time that got me inspired to check out iGoogle.
From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer