Pushing RSS Technology At The Mainstream Audience

 by Martin Belam, 1 September 2005

I spent a fascinating evening tonight watching some user-testing for one of the projects that I am currently working on. I love observing user-testing - I think it is one of the most valuable exercises a web producer can do, and I think the jolt needs to repeated periodically to keep reminding you that not everybody uses the web the same way that you, or your peers, do.

Whilst I'm not yet able to talk about the project we were testing, one very interesting tangential thing came out of the sessions. Of the three people I observed today not one of them knew what RSS was when they were asked what the orange icons on the BBC homepage meant.

BBC homepage News and Sport panels with RSS icons

However two of them immediately asked back, "What is RSS?", and went to click on the "What is RSS?" link on the page.

That for me is enough to justify their continued presence on the page.

Since the BBC is charged with driving take-up of new technologies and increasing digital literacy in Britain, I think it is important for us to showcase new types of web technology in a familiar environment to our mainstream audience - provided we continue to supply the right kind of contextual help alongside it.

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