Should I adjust the blog I write for my company so it appears correctly when accessed via RSS readers? Is there a standard format in which the layout and content is delivered to RSS readers that I can use to ensure that my blog appears the way I want?
First off, congrats on realizing that your blog needs to generate an RSS feed so that people can subscribe to it rather than have to remember to visit your site frequently to read your pearls of wisdom, etc! It’s still surprising to me how many sites – and blogs – make it hard for me to become a repeat customer…
Famously, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy once said “Standards are good. Everyone should have one.” and that’s definitely true in the world of RSS. There are at least three competing standards, called RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0 and Atom. Actually, no, there are four, because some people still use RSS 0.9. The differences between them are subtle and most people really couldn’t care less, but one nice thing about the latest standard is that you can have a richer presentation format.
In my RSS 0.9 feed, for example, it’s just text, no hypertext links, no graphics, nada. In the RSS 2.0 feed, however, I can have included graphics, use CSS styles to change typeface sizes, colors, etc. Much more sophisticated, letting me have a lot more control over the presentation and layout.
But here’s the good news: most blogging tools automatically generate at least RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0 feeds, and some actually also automatically produce Atom feeds. Then it’s up to the subscriber (or, more likely, their RSS subscription tool) to pick the best format. So you probably don’t have to do very much right now, if anything.
To tweak and tune the appearance of your feed, however, see if you can identify the RSS 2.0 feed template, then go in and poke around a bit. Save your working version each time in case you break something, subscribe to your feed in a few common Readers, and you should be up and running just as you desire!
There’s lots more information on RSS and weblogs here too: RSS and Weblogs