Feed Me! Why Really Simple Syndication (RSS) must be at the Core of any Current Website Design

“A feed is a function of special software that allows feedreaders to access a site, automatically looking for new content and then posting the information about new content and updates to another site.” – The WordPress Codex

“The Web has moved from viewing to doing.” – Google

The DesignWise marketing theory has been in synch with this observation for more than a few years. My own role has shifted from being a design “guru” to being a collaborative coach, seeking to empower and release the creativity at rest in each of my clients. Content is still king…  Websites gain tremendously from generating fresh content. But now, all of our latest designs are about delivering the tools that enable our clients to create their own content, building a broad social footprint.

“Smart” design is no longer about erecting information silos that people must come to visit. Now, it’s vital to get your content out over the wall so it can spread virally and be seen, “liked” and shared in other social places: ported over to your Facebook Business Page, sent to LinkedIn, fed to widgets, automatically pulled into other Web pages or embedded into an infinite number of personally customized newsreaders. But, none of this is possible without a content management system (CMS) that generates a Really Simple Syndication feed, aka RSS. If a Website fails to generate an RSS feed, it’s like a radio station without a broadcast antenna. You might as well be talking to the Great Wall… instead of tossing a note to someone on the other side.

In the early days of XML, you could manually generate and upload an RSS feed each time you updated a Website with new pages of content. It would take 10-15 minutes every time, but why spend that time when it can be done automatically by applying the right tools? WordPress, Joomla and other CMS tools update and broadcast their RSS feeds automatically. This is just one of the many reasons I have been using WordPress as a development platform, linking the RSS site feed to Facebook pages, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Here’s a comparison example of a site I originally built for Door County’s Parkside Inn using standard HTML and a bit of Flash animation. In 2011 we redesigned all of it creating a new 2.0 version of Parkside Inn built using WordPress software as the CMS.

Search engines respond better to the new tags, and story content and they now get “pinged” whenever there is new content. This is because the new version generates multiple RSS feeds. The feed is also connected to the Parkside Inn’s  Facebook Fan Page. The new site includes WordPress plugins for social sharing, spam filtering and another which automatically re-formats the entire Website in a mobile-friendly format when called up by any handheld device. The WordPress CMS also encourages site visitor engagement with built-in comment and response capability. And… the client can login anytime with a username and password to add and update the Website content at will.

Comparing Websites is a good way to learn about Website quality analysis – which is the final arbiter.”

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