Blog Usability: Distracting Bookmark Icons

“Make this page my home page”

Do you remember this from the pre-bubble era? Lots of websites had a link like this. Who used it by the way? I didn’t! Here’s Altavista homepage from February 2000.

Altavista homepage 2000 cropped
Image from Internet Archive

Now it has gotten even worse on blogs. From Matt over at 37Signals, “It’s the content, not the icons“:

corunet icons web2 list icons

treehugger icons

danlockton icons

zingfu icons

Given the Ebola-like spread of these things they must be really effective, right? Not so much. Zero out of Technorati’s top 10 blogs feature those icons. And only two out of the 15 entries in the current crop at Digg’s Top Today page offer “Digg me” icons.

This focus on campaigning over content seems like a classic case of misplaced priorities. The reason posts wind up at Digg, Delicious, or elsewhere isn’t because the authors made it easier to vote for them (it’s already easy). A post winds up at these sites because people respond to its content and quality.

So think twice before badgering readers with “vote for me” please. The hectoring is tiresome, it results in extraneous visual noise, it makes your site look cheap, and the benefits are dubious at best. Instead, focus on delivering great content. If you do, people will figure out how to spread the word just fine.

At this blog, we have no plans to add digg, delicious or any other bookmarking tool to our page. If you want to bookmark our page, we’re delighted. But also, we think you’re able to do it yourself without our help.

That way, you — the reader — can focus on content and be less distracted. Thanks for reading! Enjoy your stay!

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3 Responses to “Blog Usability: Distracting Bookmark Icons”

  1. Mathias Says:

    Guilty! (Being responsible for the “Want to make IMDb my homepage?” on Put there in the mid nineties and still surviving to this day. Why? Because total novices to the internet do often end on imdb as the first “wow” place and they think it’s really cool that you can “add it as you homepage”. Btw, we never measured any of this.

    B&O IdeaLab

  2. Percy Says:

    I don’t mind if a blogger posts a couple of links but the icons bother me, especially when they are over-used. By the way, I don’t know if you’re aware, but your feed post shows up with an ‘Email this’, ‘Digg this’ and ‘Add to’ at the bottom. I think there’s a setting in Feedburner which you can use to turn that off.

  3. Jesper Rønn-Jensen Says:

    Thanks for noting. That’s actually a bit embarrassing that feed icons show up.

    This morning, I saw that Dalager and Baekdal have also noted that. Here’s the screenshot that Dalager sent:

    Feedburner feed icons

    We’ll look into feedburner to find that setting. But also, we may reflect a little more about it: Maybe two small text-based links are OK, but the full row of attention-dragging icons is wrong.