Friday, 6 January 2006

Feeds: new standard feed icon at last

Feed enhancement specialist Feedburner have just decided to adopt the orange feed icon which was recently endorsed by Microsoft, introduced by Mozilla (that you can see in Firefox 1.5), the one which looks like this:

If you use Feedburner, they've changed their Optimise tab, Chicklet Chooser to provide the code for the new icon instead - or you can just edit your existing template to point to the new icon at (for the 16x16 smaller icon, like the one above) or for the larger 32x32 icon:
Or you can download the icon package and upload the icon to your fave image hosting service. You'll have to download it if you want to change the colour of the icon, and if you have Photoshop there are clear step by step instructions on how to do that, with plans afoot for sharing of customised icons and a gallery of icons.

Or you can use an online feed chicklet maker like Automatic RSS Feed Button Maker which generates the code for you which you can just paste into your template sidebar (just make sure you've unticked the boxes for everything but the top button, which is the new standard icon) - you don't even have to download or upload anything.

This is excellent news - the new icon will be far less confusing and daunting to those new to feeds than the common XML or RSS orange icons (like ), and hopefully more and more people will become familiar about what it means, which may also help the uptake of feeds generally. It would be great if lots of bloggers adopted the new icon on their blogs to help this standardisation effort along (and hey, show how up with the changin' times we are!). And if you'd like to be even more user choice-orientated, which I think can only help increase readership, then why not offer your readers the option of full, partial or headline-only feeds too, plus an email option? (obviously changing the URL of the source chicklet to the new icon's URL).

Only thing is, I'm not entirely sure myself yet whether (as it says on the Feedicon site) it's a good idea to change it from the standard and more recognisable orange Firefox icon in order to match my blog's colour scheme, i.e. adopt one which looks like this:

I'd be interested to know what others think about that general point, i.e. should everyone go orange for visibility or consistency/standardisation and to avoid user confusion, or do you think it's OK to customise the colour? (and I'd like to take this chance to find out what you personally think about the full vs. partial feeds and email vs. feeds questions too) - so if you have half a minute to answer a short survey (only 6 one-click questions, opens in new window), I'd love to hear your views. (And if I get more than a mere handful of responses, I'll of course let you all know the results.)

I wonder if they'll also change the name of the icon from "chicklet" to something else now - feedlet??

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Steve Ely said...

I think it's best to leave it orange. It's not as if it's large enough that a clash of colors is likely to hurt very much the visual appeal of a given blog.

More importantly, the more it blends in with the color scheme of the blog, the less conspicuous it is. I think you'd want it to be conspicuous; it's a good thing to be able to find very easily.

John said...

I've added the orange icon to my blog and welcome standardisation, in the hope that this will make the subscription process more transparent for consumers.

Improbulus said...

I have to say I agree that orange is best, myself, but I wanted to hear what others' views were. I've gone orange now, as you can see...

Anne Zelenka said...

I personally don't think it matters whether it's orange or another color... the difficulty I see is getting people to understand how you can use feeds, not helping them find the feeds from a site once they get that. I started blogging about a year and a half ago and had no idea what the "subscribe" link on my blog meant for a couple months (can't believe I'm admitting this). Once I started using Bloglines, I haven't had any problem finding feeds wherever they are and however a site points to them. So orange, blue, yellow--whatever--I think people will find it if they know to look for it.

How to get them to look for feeds, that's what I wonder. Maybe an orange icon appearing everywhere would have more impact in raising awareness of syndication feeds. Is that what you all are thinking in terms of recommending use of the orange one over the other colors?

Improbulus said...

Anne, thanks for sharing your views. I'm going with the orange myself as you can see - exactly because of the visibility and raising awareness point. Once many more people are familiar with feeds then I may change the colour to match my blog.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, it was so useful. I've changed my blog's feed icon and... it's cool!