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bad design: Web 2.0 link popup SnapShots™

Flash started out cool, but soon had to be disabled to avoid annoying ads. Java came before this and had to be disabled.

A lot of Web 2.0 features are the same way. They are very distracting and counter productive. Case in point - these SnapShot things where every link your mouse accidentally passes over pops up a 'preview' pane that shows the instantaneous current state of the other web page reduced to a small image.

These things are bandwidth hogs, they generate unnecessary hits all over, but worse of all they are extremely annoying. As you use your mouse to follow the text you are reading, it will pass over the odd link. Instead of slightly changing to a hover color or style, now a giant colorful popup window appears as your CPU spikes. Sure, this is a cutesy technology demo. But from a user experience point of view, this whole thing is terrible.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
I agree, I hate those things!
John Topley Send private email
Sunday, June 17, 2007
I think pretty much any UI feature that changes the UI geometry near the mouse pointer on mouseover is a menace. 

The nifty little tabs that Visual Studio and Management Studio feature, which hide various explorers until you mouse over them:  nice in principle, until you move the pointer to the left edge of the screen to select a line in the editor, cross over the boundary, and then find yourself clicking on a control instead of the text you were reaching for.  Even if you're reaching for one of the tabs:  every one your mouse pointer passes over on its way to the destination plays its little "look at me, I'm expanding into your view" animation, which is especially aggravating if it doesn't do so smoothly and instantaneously, like if, oh, I don't know, you're DEVELOPING A BIG COMPLICATED PROGRAM.
Robert Rossney Send private email
Sunday, June 17, 2007
I dislike them as well, as they are distracting more often than not.

The advertising with JavaScript and HTML is becoming more intrusive all the time as well, with bigger, badder, in a row, flashy, ones. :-) Basically, "mouse over" events are becoming quite disgusting. Time to disable it! :-) Not really.
Joao Pedrosa
Monday, June 18, 2007
Mouseover, "Disable," select "ALL websites," Save.

(Yeah, I'm not a fan of these things either. Concurring Opinions, I'm casting sidelong glances that are vague but slightly threatening in your general direction.)
Denis Dmitriev Send private email
Monday, June 18, 2007
The first thing I did when Wordpress introduced this snapshot junk was turn it off. It's a bad, bad idea.
sloop Send private email
Monday, June 18, 2007
Agreed. I hate it too.

Also on the hate list:

Some website implement special behaviors when you select a block of text (or when you click on text in general). Over at if you select a block of text and then click on it, the website pops up a new window full of search results for the selected text.

This drives me crazy.

I like to select the current paragraph of text I'm reading. It helps me keep my place in the document (like a little bookmark) and I personally find the white-on-black (or white-on-blue) text easier to read, especially for long blocks of text.

So, web developers of the world: please don't fuck with the text highlighting behavior. The *only* thing it should do is highlight text.
BenjiSmith Send private email
Monday, June 18, 2007
Benji, that crap drives me absolutely insane.  I fidget a lot.  While web browsing I'm constantly selecting and deselecting blocks of text.  That select + click = search popup crap is horrible for me.
bob, from accounting Send private email
Monday, June 18, 2007
It doesn't do that at the NYT site for me, maybe I have something disabled.

But that does remind me of websites that use javascript to disable your ability to copy or drag away text. So if you are taking notes for your blog, you have to turn off javascript, reload the page, and then you can copy the quote of interest.

Also, I do the same thing you do about highlighting the paragraph I am reading. Triple click to select the current paragraph.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
If you use FF you can get the Allow Right Click add-on.

+1 for no more SnapShots. What annoys me is when you try to click on a link and the damn thing pops up before you get the click off.
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I saw ad an on TV last night.
It was for, and touting their new "preview a website" feature in their search results.

+1 for bad-design.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Totally agreed with the SnapShots thing. It's like someone interrupting (HEY!) your conversation (HEY!), all the time. (HEY!)

Also popup 'helpers' on drop down menus are a classic annoyance. These little code crimes are either totally redundant (menu says "Print", popup says "Print") or they are just counter productive (they obscure the top menu item.)

As a UI designer I have tried various ways to find a balance between interference and helping a user get useful info. On my blog, I recently experimented with mouse over highlights to identify tag words. It did it once. ( ) The idea was nice but the experience was not that nice. Too distracting. (It was also a pain to markup each one by hand.) Anyway I did it for 'science'.

Good points on this thread - lots of ideas to blog about in the future.
Michael Baynger Send private email
Sunday, June 24, 2007

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