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Sidebar Toolbars; The Next Scourge Of Blogs And Websites

Posted by on Jan 13, 2012
Listen with webreader

For those of you who are relatively new to this blog, let me tell you something I hate: toolbars. That is, I hate them on websites and on blogs; I don’t mind if you want to have a toolbar on your browser because that’s not getting in my way, although I keep fighting the Google sidebar (a toolbar in its own fashion).

Of course I just led into my newest gripe; sidebar toolbars. In a rant I wrote last June on things that irritated me about blogs, I commented on these toolbars getting in the way of trying to read a post for a couple of reasons.

One, I like reading things a little larger than the norm. When I increase the size of the font, these toolbars increase as well, and suddenly they’re blocking all the content, making me bring everything down to size again. That’s irritating.

Two, you have your sidebar following me down the side as I try to get into some of your content. Now it’s not only big, but I can’t outrun it; that’s irritating as well.

You know, I get it. You read somewhere that you need to make sure people know how to share your stuff on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, etc. You’ve tried other things and you’re not sure if people are actually seeing these things because you have no idea if your traffic is going up or not. So you’ve figured “hey, if this thing is always in their line of sight, there’s no way they can miss it.

You got that right; what you don’t have right is that now people can’t read your content, and if they’re like me they’ll just leave and, well, so much for anyone sharing anything. And if I don’t like you I’m never coming back; so much for traffic as well. See the image above? That’s what I’m seeing with my text enlarged. Not only did it cover text, but as you can see the bottom part is cut off anyway, so if I’d wanted to share it via the final 3 options it gives me I’d have to reduce my text just to see it.

The funny thing is that what finally prompted this post is that someone I like recently wrote a post talking about how her traffic has dropped, and I can’t read it unless I make everything smaller because there’s this large sidebar toolbar blocking everything on the left side, and no matter where I go it’s there. I’m thinking that can’t help. And no, I’m not naming names; I’ll say something if she sees this post.

Of course, though I’ve been busting on sidebar toolbars, I can’t resist busting on those other little toolbars that follow you as you’re scrolling down a post as well. They’re sometimes on the bottom and sometimes on the top, and the purpose is the same as those moving sidebar toolbars; irritating as sin because it distracts you from reading. At least it distracts me.

I’m seeing these things starting to pop up on news sites as well, and it’s driving me nuts. I know I talked about our reluctance to market ourselves but this isn’t the way to overcome that if you ask me.

Folks, how many times does one have to state the fact that if you have things on your blog that irritates people and it’s not the content that you’re going to drive people away? Toolbars, popups, music playing when you get there, too much flash, people walking out from the side and talking to you (that always freaks me out)… stop it! lol

I know I can’t be alone on this one; speak y’all!
 

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28 Comments »

John Garrett:

Hah! I’m right with you on that.

Although it’s never really made me leave a site it is kind of annoying. Like you I completely understand why it’s there -people want their stuff shared more, so I can’t be too mad at ‘em.

I had no idea that they became such an obstacle with text enlarged. I wonder if there’s something the developers could do about that. Sounds like a feature they could really tout – “Doesn’t obscure your content when text is enlarged!”

Oh, and those walkouts! Awful! They look so cheap and gaudy. I had to stop a buddy of mine from doing one of those on his business site. His marketing company talked him into it but he had never actually *seen* one. Once I showed him he said “thanks, I almost embarrassed myself”.

I used to have the Wibiya toolbar and the Hello Bar. When I went to my own site they annoyed me, so I ended up dumping them.

Yeah I’m sure I’m getting less shares because the buttons aren’t right in people’s faces but I’m ok with that…

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

I hope where I have my few buttons aren’t slowing me down John. I mean, Twitter at the beginning and G+ and Like at the end of the post; what more should I need?

Those walkouts are freaky, even when they’re babes. I don’t quite understand why some people like them, although I did see one where it was actually the guy himself walking out. Creative, but still creepy.

January 13th, 2012 | 12:19 PM

Hi Mitch,

I recently installed this plugin that you’re referring to, so I guess you’re talking about me. :) My traffic has dropped, but not because of this share button. When my traffic started dropping I didn’t even have this share button installed. Right now I”m testing it out.

I have seen buttons on other peoples sites, that do float,, but it doesn’t bother me. I usually read a person’s post in my reader and if I feel inclined to leave a comment and share the information, I’ll visit for that purpose.

Thanks for sharing how you feel about it. I’m only experimenting with the share button, just installed it this week, so I’ll see what happens.

Take care,

Evelyn
Evelyn recently posted…My Traffic Has Fallen and It Won’t Get UpMy Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

At least you know I like you Evelyn. :-) I couldn’t read your post unless I reduced the print, and I enlarge print so I can read easier, so you can see the conundrum I had. I had a feeling the traffic correlation wasn’t feasible but you have to admit the two things together did make for a good writing point. I hope you can reduce it somehow if you’re going to keep it.

Evelyn Reply:

Thanks for your feedback.

January 13th, 2012 | 2:35 PM

You are not alone! I get so bugged when I can’t read the text by those tool bars I leave. The “new” sidebars that follow me everywhere are just too much.

Share buttons at the bottom of the post – awesome.
A side widget with all your social media link – good.
That’s enough.
Southpaw recently posted…Welcome to my New Home on the WebMy Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks for the comment Southpaw. Maybe we’ll start a revolution. :-)

January 13th, 2012 | 4:30 PM
julie@digestive health:

gosh i totally agree with you, i HATE it when I can’t read the text by those tool bars, i much prefer the share buttons at the bottom of a post

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks for your comment Julie; it’s all about being able to read the content, right?

January 13th, 2012 | 5:12 PM
Cindy:

I totally agree with you, I hate all the toolbars and overdosed effects on a site. When I come to a site, I am interested in the content. Those floating toolbar palettes make me always upset.
Cindy recently posted…Problems with wisdom teethMy Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Cindy, hate the floating stuff. Glad I’m not the only one.

January 13th, 2012 | 5:37 PM

I do think there is a purpose for social sharing plugins. However what does drive me mad is the ones that follow you down the page as you scroll. That is when I reach for the ‘back button’ and get outta there.

People should learn to subtly add them to their websites and leave it at that.

I personally like the ‘sexy bookmarks’ plugin.
Elaine recently posted…The Bose Lifestyle V35 Home Entertainment System – A Candid ReviewMy Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Elaine, I don’t know that one. I tested something a couple of years ago that I don’t remember, but after that I went with the separate things I have now. I might have to look at that one some day.

January 13th, 2012 | 6:30 PM

I personally not very convinced about this kind of tools. It sometimes doesn’t let you read comfortably the post.

That’s the reason because of I put them at the top or bottom in my websites, but I think I can try it.

Best regards!

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks for stopping by Abel. Actually, we don’t want you to try them; stick with what you have for now. :-)

January 14th, 2012 | 4:02 AM
John Dilbeck:

Good morning, Mitch. I agree with you 100% on this issue.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks John; I probably figured you would. :-)

January 14th, 2012 | 9:04 AM
Carl:

I personally like bookmark toolbars and especially the one that you have displayed on the picture, but I only like this visually, but what regular bloggers don’t know is that the same toolbar is consuming too much of the server power and adding at least 3 extra HTTP requests which is slowing down the website. About the pop-up, I simply don’t want to comment this, I am sure that nobody likes that.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Carl, I always figure things like toolbars are a personal choice, which explains why some people have them and others don’t. I think I don’t like these things because they either move in some fashion or get in the way of things I want to see.

Carl Reply:

It is definitely a wrong way to go, if blog is hosted on shared hosting. I understand the most bloggers follow trends of what other big blogs do, but levels are very different. I personally doubt that more than 0.1% of blogs in the world are hosted on VPS or dedicated server. Website speed isn’t only about time to load and there are additional factors.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Carl, shared hosting works a little differently here than overseas. It takes a lot for us to get in trouble with our host because of things like visitors, usage, etc. The only place we might have some difficulties is with storage, where in my case my host and I have issues with the size of images I’d like to be able to load here. Still, you’re right in saying that things that drastically slow down a website or blog need to be looked at.

January 14th, 2012 | 8:33 PM
Radu:

Hey Mitch
I am not a fan of toolbars also, moreover when i find an intrusive toolbar or even one that scrools automatically the page with me i hit the road. Respect me as a reader and don’t push me to follow/use something, so i can respect you.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks for sharing Radu; we seem to be kindred spirits on this one. I will say that I understand people are trying help us help them, but still…

January 15th, 2012 | 7:09 PM

I agree, Mitch. Incredibly unsightly. Very nice post, by the way.
Doug Gene recently posted…Rock Creek Coupon Code and ReviewMy Profile

January 18th, 2012 | 2:15 PM

I beg to differ sir. I love those toolbars cause they save me the stress of having to go back up a post, just to tweet or like it.

I understand your frustration with the sidebar toolbar covering content and that was why I shifted to bottom toolbars after one of my readers complained via email.

I coded my toolbar myself thus I ain’t stressing my shared hosting like someone just said about social media plugins.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Chuks, I figure someone has to like toolbars, and I guess you’re the guy. lol Actually, I only have one thing above my content, that being for Twitter, so no one can complain much about the placement of everything else. I’m thinking about testing the Topsy button at the bottom of my content; we’ll see if I like it.

January 19th, 2012 | 11:45 AM
ben@Atlanta excavation:

One WordPress expert has the problem of junk add-on proliferation nailed down cold. He says,”ask yourself does your site NEED this plug-in do or do you just want it?”

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

That’s a good way to look at it Ben. I’ve removed lots of things based on looking at things that way.

January 19th, 2012 | 3:20 PM