Saturday, October 25, 2008

RSS Feed(s) for Store Updates

A lot of people have been asking for us to implement RSS feeds for various stuff. The staff and I are doing a round table this afternoon working on a few IT issues, and RSS feeds will be discussed. I'd like to solicit a little input from you guys out there on a few things regarding RSS feeds.

Most people that ask us for RSS want it linked to store updates so they can subscribe to a daily new arrivals feed, so that's were we're focusing our attention.

The technical back end for an RSS feed quite simple, and we already have our feed application and server space in place for the XML files and we have a few beta test feeds setup generated from our regular HTML updates. What gets s little complicated is the presentation and formatting of the data, especially considering how many applications there are for reading them and the different ways each application handles the XML coding. I think it would help us quite a bit if you RSS users out there could give us some input on two things:

1) What is your preferred reader program?

2) How do you use the feeds, or how do you typically setup your reader to format the feed data?

For a couple of examples, it could be as simple as setting up an article headline highlighting the section update and linking back to the master updates page section, or we could setup a slightly more complex feed that contains one linked new arrival item per headline, with the item linking back to the order page. That feed would allow our software to setup one feed item per new arrival. This would be most compatible with people who format as headline readers, but would not work well for our typical large posts as most people setup their readers to only see the last 5 or 10 feed items so generating 60 or 70 feed items in one day would not be practical, though that method would allow absolutely real time updates to happen as new items are scanned in through out the day, which would be kinda neat. There will be at least one or two days a week when we can have anywhere from 15-60 new items on average in a single day. We could breakup to product categories into separate feeds (DVD / Manga / Figures / etc) but that would require people interested in several different lines to subscribe to multiple feeds, and make handling the update data more complex on our end by having to generate multiple XML files each day.


We could also setup the feed data by category and include a headline linking back to the relevant store updates page section followed by bulleted lists that break down each item with a link to that item's order page. This is the method I'm favoring, and you can see above how one of our Beta files looks in Google Reader. This method would require the user to setup the feed to display article data (if they use the reader gadget in Firefox for example), and the linked data would not appear on reader applications set to show the headline only.

So there are a lot of ways we could approach it. Any input would be most appreciated. :-)

4 comments:

kamikyo said...

First of all, excellent idea! I love your store and newsletters, and I think a store updates feed is a great idea.

But I have a lot of feeds I read today - I use Google Reader, so the best for me would be to keep it simple. In fact, it may be as simple as posting the updates as a regular entry here in this blog, with a link to each updated item in a daily batch. Certainly more than a couple of updates a day would tend to flood your readers.

So I'd try to keep it together with your blog, so we don't have to go to different places or sign up for different feeds. The different content would definitely feed off each other, and attract a larger audience overall than separate feeds. Peter Payne does a great job of this in his J-List blog, as an example.

On a separate note, have you given any thought to including more than just a teaser of your blog in the RSS feed? I'll be honest, I rarely click through to see the rest of the article (see the above "too many feeds" problem). The blog is not the destination, your storefront is, so it would benefit you to put as much content out were folks could get at it. And I'd probably read your store newsletter more often if it came via your blog as well, since I spend more time in my reader than my private email account nowadays.

But all that said, keep up the good work! The Anime Corner Store is the site I keep coming back to, a trusted source of news on anime, manga, and all things related with a truly personal touch and sense that you are all fans like us. Thank so much!

iamnutsy said...

I use live bookmarks...works fine, and no need to go download some rss or xml bloatware. As for a feed, yeah, it's fine. BUT, think of this- I spend between 150-500 a month at your site (koi kaze ring a bell? :D ). I do so because I enjoy browsing your entire site, and tend to find "must haves" that I didn't know existed. So, if I only look at your rss feed, I might miss some of those must haves, which means less money for you, less anime goodness for me.

iamnutsy said...

I use live bookmarks...works fine, and no need to go download some rss or xml bloatware. As for a feed, yeah, it's fine. BUT, think of this- I spend between 150-500 a month at your site (koi kaze ring a bell? :D ). I do so because I enjoy browsing your entire site, and tend to find "must haves" that I didn't know existed. So, if I only look at your rss feed, I might miss some of those must haves, which means less money for you, less anime goodness for me.

Robert said...

Really, really excellent feedback. Greatly appreciated!