Snap Respond to my Anti Preview Anywhere Post, but Popups Still Annoying

Snap’s Jason Fields has responded to my anti SPA post which got Dugg and consequently garnered unexpected, but appreciated support in the broader community.

In a nutshell, our product is intended to enable users to “look before leaping”, saving many people a wasted click. I will however be the first to admit that this is a product that some people don’t like, and this is why we have made sure to include a simple method to opt-out for those who don’t like it (click the ‘options’ menu in the upper right of the preview bubble).

While there are certainly others who agree with some of the comments here, there are literally thousands of people signing up for SPA every day AND we have served more than 100+ million previews since the launch of the product – and all of this for free.

We are improving SPA almost every week with features aimed at giving site owners and end-users greater control in how to implement (and indeed “if” to implement) and interact with SPA. In the weeks to come, we will be:

(1) Making improvements that will reduce the confusion about whether a link is SPA enabled, or not.
(2) Make it much easier for a site owner to point SPA to a particular type of link.
(3) Enabling the site owner to totally customize a link, image, css, etc.

We here at Snap are acutely aware of the issues described in these comments and we have several enhancements scheduled to release over the coming couple of weeks that, in different ways, will address them. Rest assured that your viewpoints have been informing, and will continue to inform, the ongoing development of this product.

This is all well and good Jason, but the inescapable truth is that popups are annoying., and no amount of hopeful evangelistic cosmetcs will change that.

12 thoughts on “Snap Respond to my Anti Preview Anywhere Post, but Popups Still Annoying

  1. Personally, I like it. Too many people complain about it for me to run it on most of my sites, but I think as it evolves it may start to erode some of the criticism (received the newsletter tonight that they have completed their upgrade, but I won’t have time to check it out for a few more days.)

  2. If Snap may be a service that rockets for those more comfortable with visual sorting, the product should at least keep the page “views” up to date.

    As it is now, I don’t find it useful — I find it annoying and disgracefully out-of-date. (I cast my vote, too.) Thanks for the opportunity.

  3. I’d prefer to see it as an opt-in service for publishers.

    If I could add my site to snaps list of sites easily, and specify data that I thought was relevant, I’d be happy.

    In terms of the way it’s displayed, I’d like it to only display links to sites of those publishers who have opted in. It could then display my pre-determined description, a link to my rss feed, my alexa rank, number of subscribers to my feed etc. In other words, information that is actually useful to a potential visitor.

    I’d also do away with the pop-ups. I think it would be better to add an icon next to “snap-ified” links that would give the user the option to interact with it.

    My two cents…

  4. Hmmm; my problem isn’t just with the popups but what’s in them. Personally, the Snap ones have a lot of “busy-ness” besides the actual website preview going on. While something like just shows a watermarked pixelfont of the site to tell you where it came from. The WebSnapr plugins can also be selective and only confined to some types of links, but I’ve not had luck installing it on my WordPress blog.

    I do find website preview popups, in a number of instances, to be more compact (as in, they don’t pop up without context: I must mouse over a link) than inline images. But an interesting connection to what Yehuda points out; I’m a tabbed browsing enthusiast but have watched many a computer user be confused by juggling between them. Maybe there’s a better UI solution (and for context, I prefer my tabs served vertically, a la Widerfox).

    Content tends to be very difficult to read at those small preview window sizes; chances are the text is unreadable! But for something like a picture, a thumbnail can be a very valuable look-ahead.

    That being said, I wonder who’s already implemented easy Snap toggle buttons on their blog? (Not dissimilar from those plugins that allow you to change between themes, or languages.)

  5. First of all, I also respect that Jason is handling this relatively well, giving out something for free and letting people easily opt-out. I say “relatively” because people should be able to opt-in, and not have to opt-out.

    But Jason wrote:

    In a nutshell, our product is intended to enable users to “look before leaping”, saving many people a wasted click.

    Which is essentially not true. Their FAQ reads:

    What are the benefits of link previews?
    Previews give site visitors the ability to ‘look before they leap’ when determining whether or not to click on a link.

    What does that mean for site owners?
    Previews help you, the site owner, keep the user on your site instead of losing them to the site behind the hyperlink (increases relevant, on-site page views).

    The first would be the case if the popup were to happen after hovering for a few moments (more than 2 seconds), or as a result of a right-click or shift-click. But the damn thing pops up even when your pointer moves over the link without even stopping.

    Furthermore, the popup blocks the site you’re viewing at that moment. Is Jason trying to imply that someone looking at a page is more likely to want to view a tiny unreadable version of some other page rather than the page he or she is looking at?

    Furthermore, the previewing ability obstructs the link itself, making it difficult to click, and is startling and bandwidth consuming, especially if you weren’t expecting it.

    Furthermore, the previewing functionality is indiscriminate. Every single link on the page gets this preview, and not the key ones that might actually deserve it. Do I really need a preview of the link to “comments for this post”, “trackbacks for this post”, and “permanent link to this post”? That’s ridiculous.

    I don’t know how the system is set up, but it should be enabled on links one by one, not for an entire page.

    Furthermore, what problem were they really trying to solve? How many people do you know thought to themselves, “Gosh, I waste so much time clicking through to other sites and then having to backtrack?”

    The solution to this is browser tabs which open in the background. These allow you to open a link without disturbing your reading and without leaving the page. If I have tabbed browsing, why on Earth would I need this?

    The real answer is the second, which is that someone thought this would be a good way to retain people on the site. And it’s flashy. As they say a little later in their FAQ: “Besides, Snap Preview Anywhere is cool!”

    It is designed to serve the interests of the blogger, not the reader. It is definitely not cool. It’s a popup which is even more annoying because they are all over the page.

    It doesn’t solve anyones problems. It’s a bad idea.

    Use the technology for something useful, like adding clearly marked links next to content for definitions or further information or something.


  6. Hey, i didn’t think his comment should sit 60 comments down on an old thread, it’s worthy of discussion.

    My view on it is as i stated: Great, but popups are annoying.

  7. Personally, I think that they are going about things the right way.

    Yes, their product is annoying for some (most) of us.

    However, some people do like the feature, they do make it easy to turn them off, and they are very responsive to criticism and feature requests to make the tool more user-friendly and publisher-friendly.

    That being said, I set the cookie and never see them.

  8. Thts true…Popup is annoying on every web page. But consider i have 10 links a single post. Instead of clicking on each link to check what that site might look like or is it really of any interest…its good to have something like snap preview. But option to disable snap preview for frequent visitor should available. Secondly delay should be configurable (I think it is…) so simple mouse movement does not show annoying popups.
    I would like to snap preview on my “Links” page Not on my “Resume” and “contact” page

  9. “Look before leaping”? You mean “judge a site on its colour scheme instead of its content”. Hardly a useful feature.

    Nick, I just read your original post and fully agree. It’s a popular waste of space.

Comments are closed.