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Monday, July 03, 2006

The RSS Feed Blasted By Nielsen Usability Study

Dan Farber, writing in ZDNet comments on a study about email newsletters by usability guru Jakob Nielsen.

Both the article and Nielsen's email newsletter study summary are well worth reading.

The Nielsen study findings that I'm going to find useful include the following:

  • users scanned a newsletter for 51 seconds on average
  • The best newsletters:

    •  Are specialized to the receivers needs
    • Are timely
    • Are Short and scannable
    • Have a predictable schedule

  • More mainstream users are using multiple email accounts

Nielsen Study Recommendations

  • RSS feeds should be renamed, maybe "newsfeeds"
  • Write good subject lines to help user distinguish the newsletter from spam
  • Include content from the newsletter in the subject line
  • keep newsletters brief

Are Email Newsletters Still Worth Doing?

The study asked users why they liked email newsletters, roughly a third indicated the following:

  • Informative and keep users up-to-date
  • They're convenient 
  • Timely information
  • Real-time delivery.

The study found the most frequent complaint was for newsletters that arrived too often.

Bottom line: Firstly email newsletters are worth doing if they deliver content people want! Secondly people don't care about RSS particularly. It wont die but it's likely the name will change from RSS to something like "newsfeed", so the name is going to die out...

, , , , , dy

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