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Share This

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Contents

Example

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A small button labeled "Share This" or similar can expand to display a selection for sharing choices in a widget.

What

A Sharing Widget is a small graphical element placed within the markup of a hypertext file that enables users to share content and information resources with the community, in conjunction with a third-party site or social networking application platform like Facebook or MySpace.

For instance, the ShareThis Widget enables the user to share the content of a page (or a component of a page) with friends on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. In doing this, this widget (or gadget, as widgets are sometimes referred to) acts as a bridge between the content of a given site, and the backend application platforms supported by the widget, abstracting out the complexity of the application platform from the user application.

When

Provide as sharing widget in contexts where the user may wish to directly send a pointer, invite someone to view something, or add a copy of or reference to something to a shared or public space they own or have access to.

For direct sending, a user might just as well opt to copy and paste a link into an ordinary email message. This meets the user's needs and benefits the community but the behavior will not be trackable by the system and thus the system won't be able to learn from this. It's important not to hinder the user but be aware that if the sharing widget doesn't provide any utility beyond traditional email then there's little reason for users to adopt it. (With users who aren't technically savvy, however, saving them from having to manipulate urls and other computer-istic text strings may be value enough to warrant use of the widget.)

By far the primary form of sharing is direct sending. Secondary forms of sharing (such as IM, SMS/text message, Facebook, etc. when included but should be secondary within the sharing drop down.

When users are logged-in, you can prepopulate the sharing form with their information and give them contact-list or address-book access with autocomplete in the recipient field of the form.

How

Provide a button or link labeled Share or Send or something similar.

WHen the user invokes the button, display an overlay form with sending and sharing options, which can behave as individual "tabbed" areas in the form. Optionally include other object utilities, such as "print" in this same context.

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AddToAny offers an extensible Share This widget for embedding on sites.

Users have come to expect thee sorts of conveniences for grabbing and sharing content. (Remember, everyone is overwhelmed with information and reminders to revisit or share information. If a user can send or share content on impulse with immediate gratification, it is much more likely they will take the action and learn to expect to be able to do so.

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A reader of Nate Silver's Fivethirtyeight.com blog asks him to add a "ShareThis" (sharing widget) to his blog template.

As a designer of social experiences, you have several potential avenues for employing a Share This widget:

  • You can design and make your own widget, use it throughout your service and/or encourage others to adopt it, thus driving traffic at least some of the time back to your service
  • You can publish icons and methods and apis for adding your service to existing or incumbent widgets (x-ref open chapter)
  • You can embrace someone else's widget if you simply want to incorporate their functionality and aren't using sharing to drive direct participation in your own network or application.

Accessibility

Internationalization

Different bookmarking and media-sharing applications are popular or dominant in different regions. If you plan ahead for localization when designing a sharing widget, by supporting modular swapping in and out of third-party services

Known Issues

As the number of platforms for sharing proliferate, the idea of displaying an array of icons for destinations won’t scale.

Why

Incorporating a Share This widget into the template or chrome when presenting content or applications, or providing such a widget for others to incorporate into their own interfaces can help facilitate sharing and interaction on your network, or provide this functionality to your users through third-party bookmarking and media-sharing services.

Related Patterns

  • Send This
  • Bookmarklet (do we list siblings here or take them for granted?)

As Seen On

  • Flickr
  • Facebook
  • Most blog and zine sites everywhere
  • Google Reader

Sources / Similar Patterns in Other Libraries

  • Yahoo! Universal Sharing Component (if published at YDN by book's pub date/should be)