Lightboxes are good. When you want a full view of an image when you click on a thumbnail, or you click on something for additional details as they keep one on the same page without any hassles of clicking the back button or closing a pop-up window. I either ways prefer pop-up windows (only when I intend to open them), sine I find myself working much faster with new tabs, but I am taking the general viewpoint here, of a much wider user base. I agree that most of the people would find the lightbox method much more comfortable. However, when I don’t intend to open a lightbox, please don’t. It is irritating, obstructive and in many cases makes a website look like a website from 1995 offering a free PC Virus scan.
Some website show auto lightboxes when a user is redirected to a site from a Google web search. Here’s an example:
If you visit daniweb.com by typing it in your address bar, you won’t see it. Follow a google url and you will see it. When I see such a lightbox, I don’t feel like joining your ‘network’. I go back to my search results and select a different link.
Another annoying example of such auto-lightboxes is the one filled with ‘Tweet about me‘, ‘Like ME‘ widgets. I understand that your daddy issues resulting in attention-seeking behavior need to be tended, but an explicit (as explicit as literally begging others to ‘Like’ you) and desperate attempt at the same needs to be addressed, and not tended.
I also hate those little bars you have at the bottom of your pages. They are ugly, and make me claustrophobic. Facebook started it all and it was a good feature, and it still is. But it is apt for facebook. It allows the user to interact with other users and perform a lot of tasks which are the primary focus of the website. As for others:
I have nothing to add. As for my reasons as to why I hate these boxes:
- I do a lot of browsing from my mobile phone using the Opera Mini browser. The thing with Opera mini is that it attempts and does a very good of job of rendering websites meant for desktop browsers and not only the one for mobile browsers. It handles scripting also in a very creative manner. The scripts are handled on a proxy server (maintained by Opera) side and any triggered event causes the page to reload with a state in which the event has triggered. Hence any changes in the web page owing to script execution causes a page reload and occurs on a remote server and it sucks to have to do that just to close a big damn box. Furthermore sometimes the boxes are so huge, that in an attempt by Opera to place the layout properly, I am never able to get to the close button. The crappy bottom bar takes up 50-60% of the browser viewport on mobile devices. And due to the small width of the same, the crappy bar is never visible anyways.
- A very specific reference to a very specific browser on a somewhat specific platform may not give one the reason enough to hear my proposal. My other reason is that these lightboxes break the very fabric of web browsing. These lightboxes sometimes have stateful information in it and are like a web frame (developers read: iframe) in themselves. But there is no reload, no back/forward buttons. For quite a few cases it is highly desirable to atleast have a reload feature, but my only option to close the damn lightbox with a button in some place hidden by your awesome navigation research in the realm of Web 2.0.
- A Lightbox focuses ones attention to the point the website is not about: Unless ofcourse your intention is to introduce me to single women. And your ‘Social Networking integration’ lightboxes would have got swirlies in high school. And they literally focus ones attention by blacking out the rest of the page or some similar gimmick.
- The timespan of a user visit on a page is very very small. Especially if he/she comes redirected from a web search. I remember reading a blog post which said that Google tries to keep it’s interface very simple and compresses it’s HTML (to that point that a company so into standards sends an HTML file without a DOCTYPE) because they found that for a delay of every second in loading the page, the number of users who exited the search doubled.
- They are seriously, seriously, annoying.
So, if you are a user, please leave a comment below signing up for the cause and if you’re a developer and agree with me, then make a difference. If you don’t, I would love to listen to your side of the story.