Unobtrusive Website Toolbars to Help Increase User Engagement
Pop-ups, pop-unders, splash pages, marquees and other "in your face" techniques to grab your visitors’ attention are so yesterday . They create bad user experiences and is also likely to piss visitors off. Not only will they not work for today’s web surfers, they are bound to backfire.
Designers and bloggers all face a common goal – we want our visitors to read important site notices, to know about current happenings (giveaways, announcements, etc) or even encourage them to follow/vote for us on various social networks. We want all these to messages to be delivered and at the same time, to be assured that they are not irritated by the way we present it. But how?
You probably have an answer already, or some tricks up your sleeves. But if you don’t, here are some solutions that we’ve come to know of and we are going to share them with you.
In today’s post, we list a couple of unobstructive methods (scripts and services) that allow you to send notifications, or messages to your readers while they visit your website. In our opinon, their scripts are lightweight and their methods, understated and elegant.
Full list after the jump.
ViperBar is a unobtrusive notification bar for WordPress sites. It has some pretty amazing features, i.e, real-time analytics, custom bar styling, A/B testing, and much more. On top of that, ViperBar also works with newsletter campaign services like Aweber, Mailchimp and Feedburner. The best news is: it is free.
Foobar is a WordPress notification bar that allows you to do all sorts of things. You can create unlimited number of bars, customize it, insert custom HTML, finetune its look and feel via WordPress Admin, and more. Foobar cost $12 and is available at CodeCanyon.
3. Hello Bar
Hello Bar has both free and a paid versions of a notification bar with full-blast features ranging from analytics to A/B testing. The free version limits you to 25 successful click-throughs/month while the paid version, starting from $4.95/month, offers packages from 100 click-throughs to 2500 click-throughs and opens up to an array of advanced features. Hello Bar is a great for budding bloggers to build up their RSS subscribers and Twitter followers.
4. Quick Notice
Quick Notice Bar is a free WordPress plugin that displays a row on your WordPress header. It allows you to include almost anything, like site notices and announcements, social network buttons, tweets, titles of the latest posts, just to name a few. It is customizable, and it even supports Google link ads. Quick Notice Bar also has a small arrow button on the right that allows visitors to toggle the bar hide/shown.
5. SimpleReach Slide
SimpleReach Slide takes a different approach. It’s a small rectangular box that slides out from the bottom right when visitors scroll towards the end of the post. It can contain post recommended by you for your readers, or you can also use it to encourage votes. It is pretty efficient to keep readers engaged. SimpleReach works for WordPress, Drupal, Blogger, or even static websites.
6. Meebo Toolbar
Meebo Toolbar is perhaps one of the most widely used notification toolbar around the Web. One of its biggest advantage is the ability to allow users to share images and links to various social networks simply by dragging and dropping them. Meebo also allows publishers to participate in their ad revenue program by showing CPM-based ads on the toolbar.
7. Digg Digg Floating Icons
Digg Digg is a social plugin for WordPress. It allows you to float a row of social network voting badges/buttons of your choice on your WordPress blog.
Use it to display badges/buttons of almost any social network, e.g, Google+, Facebook, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, just to name a few. You can also manually place icons wherever you want on your website, as long as you are comfortable editing the theme’s codes.
One small tip though – if you’re using a floating bar, it may be better to fix its position than to allow it to scroll. A floating bar that moves along with page scrolling can be irritating to some readers.
More Unobtrusive Methods
Aside from the toolbars that occupy a portion of the screen, and/or hide upon user clicks, there are other methods to reach out to website visitors or send messages (notifications) across. Here are more alternative user engagement services/methods that I’ve come to know of.
Notif!er allows you to prompt inline notification wherever you see fit. Use it to notify users when they clicked a button, edited an article, submited a comment, or anything at all.
It is unobtrusive, customizable and it runs on jQuery.
It will work on most setups, even on mobile.
Notty is another option if you want to send a message to your readers without irking them with intrusive popups and slides.
The different thing about Notty is that it only appears when the user allows it to. It appears in an elegant manner and fades away just as elegantly as it came.
Tipped is a complete jQuery plugin with its own library that you can use to fully customize advanced notifications.
The demo version is free and has a watermark on it,. You can always have it removed by purchasing a license for as low as 3 Euros.
The good thing about Tipped is that it is fully customizable, you can do almost anything you want with it, from notifying people about new posts to simple on-hover notification.