On mobile readership, and partial RSS feeds

I’ve been meaning to write my thoughts down on this for a while. Its on RSS feeds, and mobile readers (two separate issues). Spurred, largely today, thanks to a post titled: You can’t afford to lose mobile readers. The author is right – you can’t.

Mobile readers
While I don’t think sites need to be optimised for 800×600, largely because I think we’ve moved from the days on the Web where this was a necessity (what’s next, going back to the colour safe web palette? ;-)), I do think a mobile alternative to a site should be available.

WordPresss has plugins – the author mentions MobilePress and WPTouch. I’ve never used either, but I use the WordPress Mobile Edition by Alex King – in time, I’ll probably play with the other WordPress plugins.

Its nice to know that sites like Tumblr just have a mobile version available right there.

Note the bit about Flash. Most (if not all) Nuffnang ads tend to be flash based. You’ve just lost some ad readership.

RSS feeds
My pet peeve? Partial/excerpt RSS feeds. This is just plain silly. If you think people are going to click on to go and visit your site to view advertisements, you cannot be further from correct. If I’m savvy enough to be reading RSS feeds, I am almost certainly going to be using some form of ad blocker – if not via Adblock Plus, via some other method to not see ads.

If you’re worried about losing ad revenue, consider RSS feed ads. I don’t know what the click-through-ratio is, but I’m seeing more and more of them pop up nowadays. They’re a minor annoyance, I don’t block them, but I don’t actually click on them, either.

And why are partial RSS feeds bad? Because if I’m reading it on my mobile device (say, the E71 or an iPod Touch), I’m very unlikely to want to click to open another window and load your blog entry. I’ll just skip it. Skipping it is worse than showing full feeds…


  • Have a mobile optimised site
  • Have full RSS feeds. Run ads via Google if you need to. If your service of choice doesn’t support it, badger them
  • If you plan on posting lots of photos, ensure that your mobile theme resizes them to something more sensible (then again, posting original sized JPGs, and having 20 of them load in a page is play stupidity – if you’re lazy to resize it, use a service like Flickr)

More thoughts? Share them in the comments.


  1. James says:

    IME, the main reason people give for not having full feeds is to stop splogs using their content.

  2. kaeru says:

    I’ve refrained because RSS 1.0 and 2.0 don’t really have a “body” tag and instead a “full RSS feed” is actually entire contents dumped into the “description” tag. Great for planets and readers, not so great for other sites that may just want the description.

    Maybe this is the reason most software does not provide “full RSS” or body tags because of a limited standard.

    I know that you’re using “full RSS feeds” as a general term. On a technical level, I’d rather like to see Atom feeds in which description and body fields are filled out appropriately.