Snap make the case for Snap Preview Anywhere

I wasn’t expecting a response when I reposted Charles Arthur’s review of SPA’s Snap website add-on, and certainly not within the hour, but get a response I did, and directly from SPA themselves.

A sign of sensitivity? Desperation? Or even astroturfing as one commenter suggested—the top down manufacturing of the appearance of a grassroots movement, just as artifically turfed sports fields are manufactured to appear like grass.

There is some truth to these arguments; the Guardian story made the top 10 at reddit.com, equivalent to extraordinarily large exposure, and as a negative opinion piece therefore extremely bad press for SPA; with millions of dollars invested in their product, little wonder that they are responding in this manner, and promptly.

As opposed to the practise of “astroturfing” however, they are making the case for their product in-person, responding to critiques or negative reviews one at a time (presumably ‘bot assisted), and as they appear.

While I was surprised to attract their attention (here come the ‘bots!) on such a new website (one week and counting), I’m not against it, and it led me to consider the arguments for and against their product—as seen right here on A Sensitivity to Things—more closely.

And as you can see, it’s still installed…

The comment posted by Snap follows:

Tech pundits such as Charles Arthur of the Guardian, who critique SPA on the basis of usefulness, either fail to think outside of their personal frame of reference or they are essentially expressing a lack of interest in the less tech savvy.

Snap Preview Anywhere has never claimed to provide *all* the information needed, but rather to provide richer-than-what-is-currently-available cues to what lies ahead.

As a publisher you have a responsibility to your audience. If I was to attempt boiling down the science of audience research I would say this comes down to a combination of knowing who they are, what they want and what they need.

Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your audience *exclusively* made up of experienced Internet users that read your blog using browsers that support tabbed browsing (essentially IE7, Firefox, Opera or Safari)?
- Are you *not* interested in attracting and retaining readers that doesn’t fit this narrow user profile?
- Are your hyperlinks blue and underlined?
- Do you consistently follow “proper” markup protocol, defining the target and title of the link within the opening and closing of the anchor tag?

If so, your audience is likely to find the usefulness of SPA marginal. If so, your audience is trained to pick up on the subtle cues already provided by the browser framework — the browser status bar and anchor link title attribute provide these users with most of what they need to determine where links are pointing — and the cost of occasional erroneous clicks are often mitigated through the use of advanced browser functionality such as tabbed browsing…

However, if the user profile or markup principles described above are too narrow for your taste or ambition, I believe that by implementing Snap Preview Anywhere you would in fact offer ALL your readers MORE information to base their decision on which links to click or not to click, REDUCING the number of unwanted outbound clicks mid-read and, in effect, IMPROVE their ability to focus on YOUR content, or the content you link to that they TRULY wanted to visit.

For a more in-depth discussion of SPA — both its strengths and weaknesses — you might also visit our blog post The Snap Preview Anywhere Use Case.

Cheers.

Erik Wingren
Snap UX Research

I think that about closes the topic of Snap for me at least. Normal posting will resume ASAP—or as soon as I finish creating a 54 row csv-table in ReStructured Text…

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