According to Read/Write Web’s article, “Browster is Gone, But Are Web Previews Here to Stay”, the first company to produce programming to preview web pages is now gone, but there are many others battling for popularity on the web.
I recently made my opinion very clear that I find Snap Preview Anywhere exceptionally annoying on web pages. After explaining why I find it frustrating when encountered, I also gave some thought as to the value of such a gimmick. Read/Write Web explained it beautifully:
The basic idea behind previews is simple: they save you a click. Instead of clicking on a link to see the content, you can get a preview of the page using a gesture – typically a mouseover. Assuming you can decide if the page is interesting or not based on the preview, you can save a click and more importantly the page load.
The presumption is that a thumbnail will give you enough information to know if the site is worth visiting. My point was pretty is not proof of content.
So the best use of such gimmicks is for showcase, portfolio or graphic sites which review website designs, WordPress Themes, or similar graphic subject matter. In that specific case use, the thumbnail glimpse of the web page will definitely influence our decision to click.
The article goes on to describe the other options available for previewing web pages through link hovers such as:
- Netflix uses a text popup with a synopsis when you hover over the movie link. That’s useful.
- The Firefox extension Cooliris pops up a little blue square when the mouse hovers over and the user must then move their mouse over the square to see the popup preview content. The preview is almost the size of the actual page, which allows you to read the content not just see a small thumbnail. This does, however, cover most of your screen (for small screens), but you make a choice to do so.
- Sphere doesn’t preview specific pages but search engine results from its own blog search engine. The preview screen lists who is blogging about this topic (I assume those are incoming links or similar keyword search results), related topics from the site you are viewing, and recommendations on related blogs “worth reading”.
Read/Write Web believes that previews are a good idea “if used right”, but I still contend that anything that gets in the way between a reader and the content is trouble. The Cooliris Preview Firefox Extension is one you install by your own choice and it doesn’t interfere with the page until your command. The one on Netflix makes sense as it is providing information that is readable, and I probably want to know what the movie is about. Still, I like the idea of not having the preview imposed upon me and allow me to control its actions.
WordPress.com blogs now feature Snap Preview on their blogs by default. You can turn it off from within your Presentation > Extras panel. And I’ve heard from a lot of people that they are visiting the Snap site to register to have it turned off for them for good, which also makes me very wary and suspicious. What are they going to do with all that traffic and registration information? Hmmm?
Remember, these companies are out to make money on their products. We may install them for free because they are neat gimmicks, but they want the loot. The cost to losing or frustrating our audience with these gimmicks might be too high. If you use them “right” on your site, then they have value, but these are not for everyone.
What do you think?
- WordPress.com, Please Stop Using Snap Preview
- Playing with WordPress.com New Sidebar Widgets
- Buttons, Bows, and Badges for Your Blog
- Designing a Rainbow – Sexy Hot Colors
- Do-It-Yourself Search Engine Optimization
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network