Whining about Wibiya: Some Persistent Utility Bar Alternatives
Submitted by Amanda Potter on August 12, 2010 - 06:00
The Wibiya bar made quite a splash with many webcomic creators and it seems everyone has an opinion on it. I was of the mind that it could be a fad, but was talked into adding it to Walking the Lethe (frequently NSFW) by Dan, the author, anyway. We're moderately happy with it. After reading the fallout from Wibiya’s presence in the webcomics world, I found there are really 2 major complaints: 1) the pop-up is annoying, and 2) the bar makes the page shorter. With that in mind, I went hunting for a couple persistent bar tools to address these issues.
Disclaimer: I have not implemented any of these myself. Be sure to read the documentation and get a feel for it they will work for you.
Problem: Pop-ups suck!
No one really likes pop-ups, but website operators know that sometimes it takes a flashing message to attract attention (sorry readers, we’re not very attentive). Still, if you don’t like Wibiya’s automatically open alert you can try this.
Alternative: Skyna is more or less exactly the same thing as Wibiya with “integrated membership registration” and it’s own flavor of premium apps. For our purposes, you can opt to put a scrolling ticker on your bar that only opens a pop-up when moused over. The collapsed mode also have a mini-toolbar so you don’t have to reopen the full bar to use a single share function.
Problem: My browser is short.
Lots of people read webcomics on short browsers or laptops, or have an aversion to scrolling. If the bottom bar is getting in the way on your website, this might help.
Alternative: Apture has far fewer functions that Wibiya, but it only slides out of the top of your site when you scroll down. Disappearing when you return to the top of the site, it can also be collapsed to move it out of the way. The bar includes some social media tools, space for your own logo, and a search bar.
Problem: Wibiya is ugly.
Well, ok. If you think having a bar along the bottom of your site is ugly, none of these options are for you. But if you’re looking for other alternatives you can also try these.
Alternative 1: The Meebo Bar looks like a Wibiya bar, but is more aimed at chatting via any of several platforms. The click & drag an image to share function is more attractive than Wibiya’s.
Alternative 2: The AddThis ShareBar is an experimental project by the AddThis team. It creates a persistent bar with your choice of several social media options. It appears to be more customizable that some of the other options.
Some Final Thoughts
I think it is fair to say that the best way to implement any of these tools would be to integrate them into your design. Get colors to match, make sure elements align as much as possible, and ensure that nothing gets overlapped that you don’t want overlapped. And take a little time to introduce the new tool to your readers so they know what to expect. After all, these are just tools. They can become an valuable part of your site if you use them mindfully and your readers get use to the new “normal” site.