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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast Brocberry's Avatar
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    If Video Lightboxes are user-Unfriendly, what is the alternative?

    Do you find lightboxes annoying? I have a video thumbnail, about two inches wide on my 22" screen, which plays full-size in a lightbox, but I can't help thinking that these things are damn annoying. How about you?

  2. #2
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brocberry View Post
    Do you find lightboxes annoying? I have a video thumbnail, about two inches wide on my 22" screen, which plays full-size in a lightbox, but I can't help thinking that these things are damn annoying. How about you?
    I find lightboxes for the sake of lightboxes annoying. Sometimes they are useful, when they allow a pop-up interaction to take place without disturbing the page or forcing a complete reload, but more often than not they are just irritating. One that perpetually annoys me is when sites (eg blogs, Facebook and yes, even Sitepoint Forums!) have thumbnail pictures that open up in lightboxes rather than directly into the browser window. This often means squashing the picture to fit the window, which is unhelpful. If the picture loads directly then my browser will compress it to fit the window, but with a single click I can expand it to full-size (which is often necessary to see the detail), but if it loads in a lightbox then that isn't always easy, obvious or even possible.

    But what really annoys me about lighboxes is when no alternative is provided. I've been on a bit of a 'back-to-basics' experience recently. My mobile phone copes with some scripting but not a whole lot. My work computer is a dumb terminal that can't cope with jQuery so I tend to browse with Javascript turned off. My home PC has died and is at the menders so I'm using my laptop, which is so old it's coal-fired and uses roman numerals, so that can't cope with anything that requires more than a few dozen bytes of memory, so again I'm turning JS off most of the time. So every time I come across a site that uses lightboxes or any other script-powered system with no alternative, I smack the author responsible with a voodoo curse and move on to a more accommodating site.

  3. #3
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    ...I'm using my laptop, which is so old it's coal-fired and uses roman numerals, so that can't cope with anything that requires more than a few dozen bytes of memory, so again I'm turning JS off most of the time. So every time I come across a site that uses lightboxes or any other script-powered system with no alternative, I smack the author responsible with a voodoo curse and move on to a more accommodating site.
    Thanks for the early morning laugh. Made my day! (BTW... I am so old that I am coal fired, have only a few bytes of memory left, and use Roman Numerals)


    Actually I like light boxes. I hadn't considered that they distort the photos, but I find them much preferable to shuffling back and forth from page to picture and vise versa. I have never seen a video in a light box and I really don't see the need for that, though. The one attribute I like about most videos is the option to see them on YouTube, which I don't mind going to in order to view them in a larger, yet not full-page, screen.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  4. #4
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    Actually I like light boxes. I hadn't considered that they distort the photos, but I find them much preferable to shuffling back and forth from page to picture and vise versa.
    I guess this is where I forget that not everyone is enlightened enough to use Opera

    If I am looking at a page that has a number of thumbnails on and I open one up (not in a lightbox bbut just as a normal link) then the "Forward" button changes to "Next" and allows me to go through all the full-size images one-by-one without having to go back to the main page each time and click on the next one.

    It's a tricky one, because different people work in different ways. Some find lightboxes easier. Some would prefer the image to load in a new tab. I would prefer neither. I guess what this shows is that you can't please everybody all the time!

  5. #5
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    I guess this is where I forget that not everyone is enlightened enough to use Opera

    If I am looking at a page that has a number of thumbnails on and I open one up (not in a lightbox bbut just as a normal link) then the "Forward" button changes to "Next" and allows me to go through all the full-size images one-by-one without having to go back to the main page each time and click on the next one.

    It's a tricky one, because different people work in different ways. Some find lightboxes easier. Some would prefer the image to load in a new tab. I would prefer neither. I guess what this shows is that you can't please everybody all the time!
    Post the link to such a page and I'll look at it in Chromium to see what it does.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  6. #6
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    Post the link to such a page and I'll look at it in Chromium to see what it does.
    Something like these photos from a recent walk I went on would be a good example.

  7. #7
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    Lightboxes / modal dialogs are brilliant for some tasks. Video's are a good case if you want to show it at a different size to use a lightbox.
    Alternatively you can use something like http://videojs.com/ and let the users choose full screen if they want.

    A lot of people use them without thinking though, another reason they get a bad rap is that they are often used as advertisements that popup when you load a page. Those tend to make me close the web page altogether

  8. #8
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    Something like these photos from a recent walk I went on would be a good example.
    Nope. Chromium is back and forth, page to picture, etc. I guess if I were designing a photo gallery for that page (nice photos, BTW) I would use a light box, some sort of slider or other animation. Although I will take your word that Opera does it better, you have to consider their market share. I would hate to see the return of "this page best viewed in" any browser. There are a few sites still like that, but thankfully, they are on the wane. Yet, it might be a good thing to offer an alternative link such as "Javascript disabled? Click here to view the photo gallery."

    Quote Originally Posted by markbrown4 View Post
    A lot of people use them without thinking though, another reason they get a bad rap is that they are often used as advertisements that popup when you load a page. Those tend to make me close the web page altogether
    I'm one of those people.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  9. #9
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    Yet, it might be a good thing to offer an alternative link such as "Javascript disabled? Click here to view the photo gallery."
    That's where you need to be smarter with your code the <a href="..."> should give a genuine URL that user-agents not running Javascript load as a normal link, and those that are running Javascript action the script. That should all happen automatically, there shouldn't be any need to bother the user with technical details such as whether they're running Javascript or not.

    Like with the photo page it doesn't need a "best viewed in..." sticker on because it works as intended in all browsers. The fact that you need to go back to the page and click on another photo rather than being able to have a seamless transition from one to the next may be a minor irritation, but given the target audience and typical traffic levels, it isn't a problem that I consider it to be worth my time fixing especially as I hate any form of code bloat!

  10. #10
    Life is not a malfunction gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
    TechnoBear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    So every time I come across a site that uses lightboxes or any other script-powered system with no alternative, I smack the author responsible with a voodoo curse and move on to a more accommodating site.
    Welcome to my world. Three times this morning I've gone to a site, only to be met by a terse message informing me that I "must" enable JavaScript to use their site. Indeed? Then you "must" look for other visitors, because I'm off somewhere more accommodating.

  11. #11
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    That's where you need to be smarter with your code – the <a href="..."> should give a genuine URL that user-agents not running Javascript load as a normal link, and those that are running Javascript action the script. That should all happen automatically, there shouldn't be any need to bother the user with technical details such as whether they're running Javascript or not.
    I knew that, guess I just forgot it. It's been awhile since I had to do any scripting at all!
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown


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