2009 is here and if you haven’t jumped on the band wagon with using RSS feeds it’s about time you got started. Our blog has been around since 2007 and something I’ve noticed is that a large percentage of consultants, accountants, and clients have no clue what an RSS feed is, what its benefits are and how to set it up. Don’t worry though, after you finish reading my post today, you will be an RSS expert (at least let’s hope).
Before I dive into what an RSS feed is and why it’s so cool, I want to talk about how we used to access information before RSS feeds became so popular. Information is available in so many places that it’s crazy when you start to think about it. When starting your day you may check your local news website, look up stock information, check for responses on a community forum or read some of the interesting blog entries on the Method website (hey, I had to throw a pitch in there). The problem with the “old” way of doing things is it forces you to have to manually visit each site, see if anything new has taken place and when you’re done reading, move onto the next site. It may be that only 1 out of the 4 sites you’re visiting actually has new content to read. We all know how much free time you have right?
The beauty of the feed
An RSS feed is a fast way to get information from the internet sites you frequently visit, directly to you instead of the other way around. Sounds like a simple concept doesn’t it? It’s almost like your favorite website giving you a phone call saying “Hey I got new information you need to read and here it is!” In order for your websites to “call you” you’ll need to “subscribe” to their RSS feeds. It’s almost like being put on their calling list except you don’t get those annoying telemarketing calls. You subscribe only to the content that you want.
How to identify a website with an RSS feed?
A website that has RSS feeds will have the “RSS” logo either in the top toolbar of your internet browser or the RSS icon on their page. I’ve pointed out the RSS logo on the Method website in the diagram below but I’m sure you’ve also seen this logo elsewhere. It’s kind of hard to miss since its bright orange. Once you have identified a website you want to subscribe to you’ll need to make sure you have an RSS reader and actually subscribe to the feed.
An “RSS Reader” is like a newspaper that contains all the articles for the “feeds” you’re reading. This reader is where all the sites you subscribed to are going to be sending their information to. Hence, why they call it a “reader”. Getting it? A bunch of readers are available out there. I personally use the reader built-in to Outlook 2007 and for my iPhone the Google Reader. I am going to go through an example of adding an RSS feed for our Method Blog using Internet Explorer 7 since almost all PC users have this installed. Here we go!
- Open Internet Explorer.
- Go to the site with the RSS Feed. In our case we’ll be going to:
- In the top of the IE toolbar you’ll notice the orange “RSS” logo I was talking about earlier. Click the logo.
- An HTML preview of the feed you are going to subscribe to now appears. Click the Subscribe to this Feed link.
- A pop-up window will appear. Click Subscribe and that’s it!
Now Internet Explorer will be notified when new blog posts are available for you to read. To see if there is anything new to read, follow the steps below.
- If Internet Explorer is already open, click on the star or Favorites Center at the top left of your screen.
- Click Feeds.
- The Method Blog will be listed there and will be bold if new information is available.
Personally, I love using Outlook 2007 as a reader especially on my laptop. I just find it easier to get my RSS feeds in email form vs. having to open up Internet Explorer. The nice thing is if you have setup the feed through IE it appears in Outlook automatically. I love things that are automatic and easy.
So now that you have setup your first RSS feed with Method and know how RSS feeds work, have some fun with it. Just remember to look for the orange logo! Just be careful because it’s addictive (speaking from personal experience).
So what’s your favorite RSS feed? I know, I know, it’s Method. I’d love to hear your second and third picks though, so, let me know via our comments section.
Till next time,
Danny Do Couto