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Hurdle #20: SnapShots

Two hurdles posts in two days, i agree i need to calm down :)

I'm doing this post primarily because i have added a new feature to the blog, and i need to tell you about it so you know what to expect. In the process of this i hope to give you a little overview of the SnapShots feature to help you decide if you want to use it on your own blog.

I am a big fan of tool tips and previews, but if they aren't managed with care they can get really annoying. Don't you hate it when your trying to read something and previews and adverts are popping up everywhere? I do, so i add this feature with caution, and ask that you let me know if it gets on your nerves.

 I start searching for relevant pics with good intentions
then get distracted by funny cats
Blogger users will be familiar with the way this feature is administered. Our extra features are generally hosted externally and are added to the site using a HTML/JavaScript gadget in the features area. I'm sure the merits of this method, like the Blogger v Wordpress debate, will split you all into two camps. Having been experimenting with Wordpress over the last couple of weeks i am still very much a Blogger boy...but thats a debate for another time.

Once its installed there is a range of options, although i am left feeling a bit short changed. There are some obvious options missing, the most significant of which is the ability to turn the automatic preview addition off and add a preview manually to links of your choice. Due to this limitation you have to be very brutal with the options in order to avoid being too intrusive. Here is some of the options, and my chosen settings.

  • Add your own logo: This is a really nice touch. Each preview will have your logo displayed which i hope will add some credibility to the previews. It could be easy for a reader to dismiss the previews in the same way we used to do on about.com.
  • "My site displays sexually-explicit content": Weird feature this. 
  • Advanced Settings
    • "Show Snap Shots Link Icon": This puts the speech bubble icon next to every link with preview available. I hate this because it clutters up your site and just makes it look crap. I think bloggers benefit from subtlety, and this feature is not at all subtle.
    • Link Icon
      • "Trigger Snap Shots on Link Icon Only": If the link icon option is enabled, you can stop the preview box being activated by the link itself. To activate the link the reader will need to hover above the link icon, which does give the reader an option to avoid previews totally...maybe a saving grace of the terrible icon feature.
    • "Display Large Snap Shots by Default": Does what it says on the tin.
    • "Enable Snap Shots for External Links": I think this option is what SnapShots is about. I want to keep you on my blog for as long as possible, so giving you guys the option to preview an external link gives you the chance to take a quick look without leaving DJ.
    • "Enable Snap Shots for Internal Links": I cant see that this feature adds anything of value. I enjoy blogs that i can explore, and this sort of takes away the fun. Also, if you have both internal and external links activated that means every link has a preview, sort of sidestepping the subtlety we talked about earlier.
    • "Only Display Preview Shots": You have two options for what appears in the preview box; RSS or Preview. I have only been referring to the preview function, as the RSS looks untidy and off putting.
    • "Enable Snap Shots to look for key phrases on your web site, and then add the right Snap Shots.": This adds even more links to your blog. Not only would every link have a preview, snapshots would trawl your blog and add its own preview links. This just overwhelms readers, and takes creative control out of the bloggers hands. Its too random, uncontrollable, and unpleasant for you lovely readers. 


So let the trial begin! I'm going to be testing it along side you, so we can share our thoughts on it in the comments for this post.

Do you agree with my opinions on the settings?
Do the previews add value to a blog post?
Do you find it annoying?
Should it stay, or should it go?

I look forward to chit shatting...shit chatting (the Partridge)