How I Wish RSS Subscribing Would Work

This wouldn’t work for every use case related to RSS subscription, but I think it would work for many people. Most importantly, it would work for me and that’s how good design solutions begin.

This is the workflow for how I subscribe to a site’s feed now (click on the images to see them embiggen)…

Click on the RSS icon or link (assuming I can find it easily, but that’s another post).
RSS Subscribe Step 1

I am then presented with a page which shows the results of the feed plus a widget allowing me to subscribe.
RSS Subscribe Step 2

When I click on the Subscribe button, I am taken to Bloglines (my reader of choice) to finish the subscription process.
RSS Subscribe Step 3

I shouldn’t have to subscribe twice. The initial Subscirbe button was enough. I don’t think I have ever changed the default settings and really it’s something I can easily do within Bloglines later. Ah well. I take care of this page’s needs by clicking the Subscribe button on this page.

I am then presented with… Bloglines! But wait, I was reading a site a few moments ago, wasn’t I?
RSS Subscribe Step 4

How It Should Go

I find the RSS icon or link and click it. The following appears.
RSS Subscribe Step 5

I select my reader of choice, click Subscribe, and get a confirmation message. I can click the Close to make the subscroiption section go away and I am back to reading the site.

RSS Subscribe Step 6

Why is this good?

I am already on the site, so there’s no reason to take me to my feed reader to read what I was already reading. I can always go to the reader later. Besides, the reader (Bloglines anyway) only loads up the 10 most recent posts and on most sites, I can read those on the front page of the blog.

My way only takes focus away from the page to complete the task, then I am back to reading. In the future I can easily consume content from this site via the reader.


  1. I think that’s a great alternative when subscribing to a Web-based reader. It hadn’t really occurred to me as an issue before due to the fact that I use a desktop app for RSS. That said, even if you hit subscribe for a desktop app, you’re still left staring at the feed page. I think your solution to an obvious problem is quite good both for Web-based tools as well as desktop apps.

  2. Hey Paul,

    I bet you know this already, but for the record I don’t see this as a Bloglines issue. It’s entirely the browser. I left a comment on the bug page.

    Writing my comment I came up with an idea to improve the workflow above: add a link to allow me to go to Bloglines (or the reader I chose to subscribe with) to see the subscription edit page, or close the subscription area of the page.

    @Josh: I’ll get right on it. As soon as I learn how to code and then convince Mozilla to accept my code. :)

  3. Have you considered a desktop app with web sync? With Safari and NetNewsWire, I hit an RSS feed icon and NNW opens up in the foreground to subscribe. Safari’s state remains unchanged. Then, when I need to access my feeds via another computer, I simply go to and everything is there, synced up. It’s a nice system.

  4. I do exactly this with Google Reader and a “Subscribe” bookmarklet. One click of an RSS icon to subscribe, one more to tag the feed and I’m done (if I’m in a hurry I can tag the feed later, making it a true one-click solution)

Comments are closed.