Add a Logo to your Feed
Many complain that RSS and Atom have taken away the possibility to maintain your personal brand. For the most part, that's true. With so many people consuming content via RSS, I'm surprised anyone even knows who writes this stuff anymore. Many of the feed readers out there will snarf up your favicon, so at the very least, you should try to have one of those in place.
You can also add a path to an image in your RSS or Atom feed.
That's right. Both formats allow for you to specify a URL to an image. Then, it's up to the feed readers to decide how to use or present that information. Here's the slightly disappointing part. Bloglines seems to be the only one in my limited testing that actually supports the use of this custom image. Google Reader, Newsgator Online and Netvibes were the other ones I tried that ignored it. Even still, it's nice to know that even a minority of my readers are able to see a small piece of personal branding each time they read my feed.
Adding the necessary code to an RSS feed should be fairly straightforward but, depending on your blog tool of choice, may require you to access the files via other means besides a fancy web admin. Wordpress, for example, will likely mean FTPing into the server whereas MovableType has the feeds as index templates.
Adding to an Atom Feed
The Atom specification details two separate XML elements that can contain a URL to an image:
icon, it indicates that the image should have a 1:1 ratio and should be appropriate for small sizes. Not much more is spelled out, such as appropriate image types. For
logo, the spec says that the image should have a 2:1 ratio but doesn't give any recommendations to how large or small the image should be.
logo elements will appear within the
<feed> ... <icon>http://example.org/favicon.ico</icon> <logo>http://example.org/logo.jpg</logo> ... </feed>
Adding to an RSS Feed
The RSS specification is a little different in that you can only specify an image and not an icon for your feed. However, there's a lot more metadata that you can provide with the image. The
image element resides within the channel element and has three required elements that must be contained within it:
link. The url is the image URL. The title is used as the alt attribute if the image is used in HTML. Finally, link should be the URL of the site. The title and link of the image will likely be the same as the title and link for the channel.
There are three additional elements that can be used:
description. Width and height are the dimensions of the image. The description would be used in the title attribute of the link if rendered in HTML.
Now, the RSS specification is a little more specific when it comes to possible image sizes.
Maximum value for width is 144, default value is 88.
Maximum value for height is 400, default value is 31.
Here's an example of how the image stuff might look in your feed:
<channel> ... <image> <url>http://www.snook.ca/img/rss_banner.gif</url> <title>Snook.ca</title> <link>http://www.snook.ca/jonathan/</link> <width>111</width> <height>32</height> <description>Snook.ca features tips, tricks, and bookmarks on web development</description> </image> ... </channel>
Better than nothing
Despite the lack of support in most RSS readers, I still think it's a good idea to include it. And for you stat junkies out there, when a Bloglines reader accesses your feed, it'll load the image from your server. Now, you can get a more accurate picture of how many people are actually reading your feed.