RSS or more generally, news feeds in general, are growing in popularity. For the uninitiated (of which there are more than you think), News Feeds are like getting a subscription to a magazine instead of stopping by the newsstand everyday to check if there’s a new issue out. So rather than check a dozen or a hundred websites everyday, you are informed when any of the sites you’re watching have been. Nowadays, you can get feeds on just about anything: major news, most blogs, the latest photos from a friend, etc. For the narcissists, there’s even feeds to tell you when something new that mentions you has been posted on any blog or feeds that track commenting on a site or an article. When My Yahoo! starts to offer news aggregators, you know it’s probably hitting mainstream.
But is it really ready for prime time? The way I see it, there are numerous problems still with this “product” or collection of products. Steps are being made to fix them but they’re not there yet. When we talk about products, some like to use the Venn diagram of Useful, Usable and Desirable. If a solution fulfils all three of these, it will most likely be successful. News Feeds and their related technologies, I fear, have problems in each of these areas.
I keep meaning to post this but keep forgetting. For the few of you readers in Hong Kong, I am presenting at the Hong Kong Usability Professionals Association on Thursday, May 12th. There is unfortunately a cost but it’s nominal (non-HK people who check this out, please note that these are in HK currency). The title of the presentation is Usability Benchmarking: Making Sure You’re Actually Improving the Product
. Hope to see you there!