I remember hunting for the “Print Friendly” links on pages because they didn’t have the crud around the page that gets into the way.
Since RSS became en vogue, there was no need for this approach, since you could suck in the content to your feed reader.
Chris Wilson (IE program manager) talked about this in his keynote at The Ajax Experience, and how he reads a lot of content there just because of this reason.
I now think about a web site UI as competing with the feed reader experience.
If a lot of your users would rather use a simple list of article view of your site, then you haven’t done a good job giving them what they want on your actual site.
The process of competing with your RSS feed normally ends up with the following:
- You do not put too much on a page to overwhelm it
- You think about exactly what the user wants
- You provide greater navigation to help them find what they want
If you are winning the batter against your feed, you don’t have to stop there. You can then go into your feeds and see if any of the lessons could be learned and a few subtle tweaks to the feeds could help out. You should be reluctant to put too much into a feed (you could make the feed look exactly the same as the web page if you wanted of course. don’t) but a few things here and there to help the user is not a bad thing.
RSS Feed. En garde.