Posted December 17, 2006 12:36 pm by with 19 comments

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You should have noticed that a few weeks back I added the Snap link preview tool – the one that gives you a handy pop-up preview of any external link.

I have been meaning to ask you whether or not you found it useful or annoying. It looks like Darren Rowse asked the same thing of his readers and most of the comments are negative. So, assuming that you might think the same, I plan on removing the feature this week.

If you happen to love the feature and would like it to stay, please leave a comment. If your reaction is “good riddance”, I’d like to hear from you too!

  • Here’s one vote against – I prefer raw links.

  • Good riddance times two. It provides no value to me, the user.

  • I removed mine after testing it for 2 days, I had some complaints it was throwing wonkadoodle (technical term) errors.

  • I like it and plan to keep it on my site. No complaints yet.
    I first saw it on your site so I thank you for that.

  • I concur, waste of load time.

  • Why would anyone want those annoying pop-ups? That’s why pop-up blockers become so popular and eventually built into the newest browsers.

    Good Riddance.

  • They don’t do anything for me. Half the time they pop up while I’m moving my mouse and not actually looking to click on the link. Some good link text surrounded by good context is more than enough information. A thumbnail doesn’t add value.

  • I like it, but I think it has its purpose in a different area. For example, in the context of your site… maybe its not so helpful. I go here to read your insight, not really to look at it. When the preview=popup comes up it gives your site a feeling of pop-up ad spammy, probably not your intention.

    If you were linking to something more picturesque and previewing the link gave me an indication of what the picture might look like, then it’s helpful. Also if you gave me a huge listing of links to go check out, you are probably recommending them for the writing or thought leadership they provide. I can’t verify for myself without clicking on the link and looking around. Maybe a whole page of links that you recommend might be served well by this tool, but I’d also like to see the preview a bit larger. I can’t tell if I am going to like the site with the preview size they show.

    But I thing the execution of the Snap tool is more at fault than you trying it out. One thing the company could do to provide a better product and promote themselves might be to do some type of cookie-based sessions… they could put a tiny icon (maybe their logo) in place of the link and the first click on it would see there’s no cookie and give a preview allowing the user to “turn on” the functionality.. Next time it would remember they like previews and continue on. Well cookies are just as bad I suppose as an auto-link thingie, but who knows. I’d also like to be able to adjust the size of the window.

    On another related topic, I think the current best practice of bloggers underlining the text with a link to the article is also confusing for the regular non-Guru web user. I’ve definitely heard this from people who go to my dog new blog… What will this do? Send me to a random page within the blog? Send me to a company’s website? Start a video? Arghh…

    (I think) I’ve grown my blog traffic by providing very simple ways to navigate around, with clear indications that I am linking you to an outside page. Because they are going to want to pull you in, sign you up for a newsletter, “subscribe to my RSS feed,” and all that crap.

    I dunno, maybe I’m the wrong who’s wrong.

    By the way, hope this is not construed as a sad attempt to build traffic, because most of your readers might not be dog owners, your comments simply sparked an area where I have some thoughts.

  • greg norton

    I like it. They are helpful as I can see the page without waiting for it to load and they only seem to appear when I sit on the link.

  • I’ve had mixed feelings about it since you launched it, overall I’d vote against.

  • I like the Snaps only because I can preview the ads without clicking on them Andy.

    (Suddenly Andy rushes to press a giant red DELETE key)

  • I asked on my blog a couple weeks ago and only got a couple mild endorsements, no complaints. But I’m gonna yank it anyway because I find it annoying. 🙂

  • I didn’t mind them. I found them useful for helping me make a visual connection between a link to someone’s name to their website. Sometimes I remember a site’s UI first, or site name, and then the site owner.

  • Thanks for the feedback. It would be good if they could let you define which links to add them to – like a =”snap_preview” tag or something.

    I certainly only want to keep using it, if each of you find it useful. It doesn’t help me as I already know where the link goes. 🙂

    BTW, DogBoston, I think your comment was sufficient enough to avoid any calls of “dog spammer”. Beside any blog that has stories about dachshund puppies being saved from hawks, is making a huge contribution to the blogosphere! 🙂

  • I swear, someone at Snap has read this post. I just received an “update” email from them that includes a link to an FAQ page with details on customizing the preview tool. It appears I can select which links use the preview…

    Q: I only want a few of the links on my site to trigger the preview popup. Is there a way to only include links rather than excluding them?
    A: Yes. In the JavaScript code snippet added to your page, look for the query parameter ‘ap=1’ in the src tag and change it to ‘ap=0’. This will cause the system to not popup the preview by default. Then, for each link that you do want the preview popup for, add a ‘snap_preview’ class.

    So, I’ve switched it off for now and will add the preview to any link that I think might be useful to have a preview.

  • Andy,

    I added snap to my blog after seeing it in practice here. I like the idea and think it is useful but annoying. I will be looking at it further, possibly only putting it in posts.

  • I don’t like them – I always jump when there’s this… thing on the page because my mouse happened to float over it. 🙁

  • I installed it on my blog when I saw it here Andy. No complaints though when I mouse over a link just to see the URL I find it a bit annoying to get a pop up.

  • I found it useful in Link Directory/Web directory site.