What Is RSS?
Basically, if you like an article on a site, you may come back at a later time. Or you may not. Maybe you’ll bookmark it, or maybe you’re like me, and rarely, if ever, bookmark pages.
That is where RSS comes in. You can take all the sites that you like to visit, and have their latest content sent to one place, where you can then read the content, or go there directly. Instead of visiting the same sites every day only to see nothing new, you will find out exactly when new content is posted.
It’s the perfect solution for sites like us; with just one writer, it’s hard to post a new review every single day, or even every week. But when we do post something, it’s sure to be something you’ll want to read! So just subscribe to our feed, and you’ll find out exactly when we post something new here. If it’s something interesting, you can come on over and read the rest. If not, just move on and see what the other sites you follow are offering today.
I should mention that technically “RSS” is only one method sites use to “Syndicate” their content. It became a generic term, but really what we’re talking about is content syndication. A better generic term would be “Feed”.
What RSS Reader To Use
There are tons of RSS readers, but I’ll save you a lot of time and let you know that the only one you need to bother with is Google Reader. As you would guess, it follows Google’s usual design philosophy of “simple but absolutely useful”. It’s web-based, so all you have to do is point your browser to reader.google.com. Best of all, it’s fully compatible, so if you’re on the road just hit up reader.google.com, and you can keep track of all the sites you follow. No longer do you have to sync bookmarks or content with your mobile browser! And if you follow the links from Google Reader Mobile, it will even translate the site to a mobile version for you.
How to Find a Site’s Feed
If you are wondering if your favourite site offers a feed, you might be looking in the wrong place, or that site is poorly designed. There are usually at least two places to look to find a site’s feed.
- Most sites will have a feed icon in the browser’s address bar. The icon will depend on the browser being used, but it’s usually the orange “RSS Icon” that most people use (created by Mozilla). Safari uses a blue icon for some reason, and IE8 puts it below the address bar (but still uses the familiar Mozilla icon)
- If a webmaster is doing his job, their site’s feed should be featured prominently on the site. That’s how you found this page!
Don’t Want to Use a Feed Reader?
If you don’t want to start mucking about with all this fangled new technobabble nonsense, but still want to keep up to date with a site, many of them offer email based subscriptions. You will usually get an email once a day with a list of the latest articles. At least that’s how we do it. You can subscribe to our RSS feed via email here.
Still Don’t Get it?
This video explains things in a very simple way. Worth checking out for sure, if you have any more questions!
I hope you have a better understanding of how RSS works, and why it kicks so much ass. Now once you get your reader set up, be sure to Subscribe to HCW!