From the Perspective of a Feed Reader

Almost every morning when I get up and eat breakfast, I check my feeds in Google Reader. On a good morning, I have about thirty or so feeds waiting to be read. If I’ve neglected my feeds, however, sometimes I will have hundreds. Within this post, I will go over some observations I have made while reading feeds.

Use of the MORE Tag

MORE Tag in Use

A lot of blogs, including this one, make use of the <!--more--> tag for WordPress. However, this causes the feed to split once it reaches the more tag.

What are the chances of me clicking the “more” link to the blog post? Zero. I’ve already written about what I think of partial feeds, so I will not go into it here. However, part of the feed experience is allowing the feed readers to read the full post.

For those that use the MORE tag for WordPress, I urge (beg, actually) you to use the Full Feed plugin to allow full posts to be displayed.

Apologizing for Not Posting

When there are a hundred or so posts to be read, a post that reads “Sorry for not posting” sticks out like a sore thumb. My immediate reaction is to unsubscribe from the blog. I infamously wrote about “being too busy to blog” in my essay on WLTC, and I still stand by my point that it is a slap in the face of a reader.

All a “sorry I can’t post” post does is bring attention to your blog (in a negative way) and makes me reach for that unsubscribe button. The last thing I want to see in a feed reader is “sorry, I can’t post.”

Headlines

When there are a hundred or so feeds fighting for my attention, it is usually the headline that draws me in. Am I interested in the topic? Do I know what the topic is about?

It is important to realize that with feeds, your headline is going to be taken out of context of your blog. A headline that just reads “Weekend Survey” just won’t cut it. What is the survey about?

Bullets and Headings

A Long Feed

Bullets and headings are extremely important for feed readers. Headings break the post into manageable and readable sections, while bullets allow the readers to skim the content.

Long posts such as the one shown in the image are rarely read by me. I prefer headings and bullets. I have a feeling I am not alone.

Mis-Aligned Images

Feeds are stripped of style. This means that images that are aligned left or right on a blog are typically not aligned left or right on a feed.

Image Aligned

In the above image, the start of the post begins, “At the beginning.” However, the image forces the text over to the right. To get around this, I place the image in a paragraph and align it using CSS.

The code I use is: <p><img src="pathtoyourimage" style="float: right" alt="" /></p>

If you have WordPress, you can download a plugin I wrote called Feed Styler. It allows you to style your images so they show up correctly in feeds.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading about feeds from my perspective. If you have anything else to add, please do so in the comments.

About William

William lives in Oakley, California and is an avid tech enthusiast. When he's not writing about online social networking and businesses, he is busy reviewing how social media affects us all.