Equally a reaction to my recent busy-ness and my desire to fold the QuickBits (short links to cool stuff) into the main content area, I’ve made a few small tweaks to the Notebook here.
Following the lead of a few other sites, I wanted to experiment with a singular flow of Notebook entries — both fleshed-out articles, as well as quick links to stuff that I happen to be reading. It’s become quite common for sites to break those quick links out into a separate column (as I had done previously). It prevents a proper “article” from being pushed down the page when quick links are added in succession. But there were other aspects of the dual setup that were bothering me.
- It started to feel funny, stuffing longish descriptions of QuickBits into the
titleattribute of the link. Oftentimes, the descriptions weren’t titles at all. In fact, the title was often the text that was being linked. Visually, it’s cleaner to just show the linked text, and have the longer description shown on mouseover (when placed in the
titleattribute), but it’s hidden, and usually contains far more than a title. I want the ability to say more than just a few words about what I’m pointing to.
- Attributing the source of a link becomes a problem when using the
titleattribute as well. If I want to give credit to someone for a cool link I’ve found on their site, I can only add unclickable text:
kottke.orgat the tail end. Even worse, If I just say,
Kottke, is everyone going to know where that is? (Yes. OK, bad example).
- Description Length
- We’re limited as to how much text we can actually stuff inside a
titleattribute (I belive some browsers will truncate at a certain character length). I want the ability to write a bit more about something, without feeling the need to write a whole article about it.
- Lack of Comments
- This is primarily because I was using my own home-grown mini CMS previously, and I realize that other sites enable comments on link lists.
- Lack of a Permalink
- See the item above.
So, these are some of the reasons for the tweak. I now need to experiment with how to handle feeds. Should the title for a QuickBit link directly to the site that I’m pointing to, or should it point back to the archvied entry? I suppose if I enable comments on these, linking to the post would make more sense. Things to think about.
At present, a QuickBit’s title will link to the site directly, as well as a “Visit site” link at the end of the description. A permalink is added at the bottom (marked with a # icon) to reach the archived entry on SimpleBits. An extended notebook entry’s title links to it’s archved entry, and permalink is also marked with a document icon.
This got me thinking about importance, weighting and text size (a hot topic these days). It’s perceived that a separate link list in another column becomes less important than proper full-blown entries (and maybe that’s intended). But when mixed in together, the importance evens out. I’m attempting to weight the importance subtly by decreasing the size of QuickBit titles.
Confusing? Make sense? I guess that’s for you to let me know. I think it’ll work well going forward (still not sure about the feeds though).
And the experiment continues…
Update: Well, the experiment was a success, in that I’m back to having QuickBits in the sidebar :-). But while I’ve returned to abusing the
title attribute, I’ve solved several of the other problems: permalinks, ability to comment, searchable entries (now that I’m using MT for all of it) as well as a singular flow for the main Notebook page and monthly archive indexes. Attribution isn’t perfect — the link obviously isn’t clickable in the tooltip, but it will appear in the archived entry page (as well as any other HTML). I’m also happier with the feeds, now still offering a singular flow of entries for all content or separate feeds for articles and QuickBits. So, while I’m back to the same placement, I’m much more content with the improvements.