New Feature: Common Feeds Icon

Another update to Journals this week was the switchover to the Common Feeds Icon (). This is the same icon used by Firefox, and soon Internet Explorer and Opera.  Also, AOL's Favorites Plus.  It's also being adopted by web sites at an astonishing rate.

(Why a new icon to indicate feeds?  Because "RSS" doesn't exactly scream "dynamic feed of updates for this web page".  And lots of people our testing thought the tiny icon said "R55", which is even more useless.)

Rogers Cadenhead has a nice discussion here (see the comment thread too).

There's a debate over whether this icon should indicate an action (subscribe to this feed) or be a link to the feed resource (see the feed, and maybe subscribe).  I personally don't think this is a huge issue, as long as a user isn't left staring at XML source.  If an application only lets you do one thing with a feed, jumping directly to subscribing seems like a good idea.  If you can do multiple things, give a menu of some kind (like Journals does) or a preview with options... humans can figure it out given reasonable feedback.  Machines can't, but then they're not looking at the icon, they're looking at the <link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" ...> markup in the page header.

Also, they're called "feeds".  Doesn't matter if they're RSS 0.91, RSS 0.92, RSS 1.0, RSS 1.1, RSS 2.0, RSS 3.0, or Atom.  And it really doesn't matter that they're in XML (well, except for RSS 3.0 :) ).  What matters is that you just look for the if you want to keep track of what's new.  Simple.