Jakob Nielsen Misses a Key Feature of Weblogs (hint, it’s RSS)

Jakob Nielsen has been writing about web usability on his site for what must be close to a decade now. In recent year’s its become fashionable to take digs at him, even though his advice still makes sense to me.

I’m not trying to jump on the bandwagon here, but I do have to take issue with one of the items in his recent post on “weblog usability mistakes”:http://www.useit.com/alertbox/weblogs.html. Specifically: #7. “Irregular Publishing Frequency” where he talks about the importance of using a regular publication schedule so regular readers know when to check back.

He seems to be missing is the important and growing role of RSS in weblog publishing and consumption. I suppose this isn’t suprising, since he doesn’t appear to have an RSS feed on his site (at least not one that is easily discoverable). Still, RSS + RSS aggregators address the problem rather neatly. People don’t have to get in the habit of returning to your site to check for new content. They just have to get in the habit of adding feeds for weblogs of interest to their aggregator. When you publish a new item, an excerpt, or even the full text, shows up in their aggregator.

Granted, there are plenty of issues with usability around RSS subscriptions, and only some of them can be addressed exclusively by the publisher since the aggregator makers have to be involved. Still, I think it would have been better to talk about ease of discovery of RSS feeds for #7 in his article, and then put his money where his mouth is and implement a stellar example on Alertbox.

Other people have their own take:
* “Deane on Gadgetopia”:http://www.gadgetopia.com/post/4490
* “hyku.com”:http://hyku.com/blog/archives/000822.html
* “Philipp Lenssen”:http://blog.outer-court.com/archive/2005-10-17.html#n58
* “WeBreakStuff”:http://webreakstuff.com/blog/2005/10/jakob-talks-about-weblog-usability/

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