Personal tools

Send This

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Contents

Example

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Direct sending at MySpace

What

User wants to share an object (pointer, media, or application) with one or more people. The application wants to be involved in the sharing in order to learn who is sharing what with whom, and how often.

When

Use when displaying content, resources, or applications on your site or elsewhere. When the user is logged-in, you may provide an easier process by prepopulating their sender information and offering them access to their contact list.

How

Enable people to spontaneously share content or objects they find by sending them to a friend or posting them to a shared, personal or public space. Provide a consistent Share This widget on each page or associated with each granular object (pointers, media, applications).

Sending can be enabled for logged-out users with an encouragement to log in to gain access to contacts, or it can be enabled only for logged-in users, in which case it may be an incentive to sign up or a barrier to participation.

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Sign-in can be a barrier to email, or an upsell, or entirely optional. The New York Times is experimenting with sponsorship of the article tools as a source of monetization of the behaviors around their content.

When the user invokes the sharing link, provide - if possible in a popup or overlay - the minimal interface needed to facilitate rapid sending or posting. Offer autocomplete selection from an address book or set of contacts if possible. Don't break email.

Consider including a text field for adding a personal note, although most people will skip this and some may even be slowed down by it. One approach is to include a link that if invoked expands the optional text field, as Flickr's Share This widget does.

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Direct sending at Flickr offers the option of adding a cover note.

Offer the user a checkbox option for receiving a copy of the message (especially since the sender will not have a copy in their outbox, as they would with "real" email - don't break email).

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Enable the sender to get a copy of the message they're sending.

Consider using a CAPTCHA or similar method to thwart automated sending and spam in particular. Confirm success or apologize for failure with an offer to try again, and offer to dismiss the overlay dialog box.

(Optionally combine with at least one method for saving, favoriting, bookmarking or posting the the content to a space the user can authorize.)

Special Cases

Any interface that mimics (or hooks into) email can be misused for spam. If using CAPTCHA consider supporting audio CAPTCHA to provide better accessibility. Sophisticated users may likewise be reluctant to use a one-off sending method that won't be tracked or archived in their personal mail system.

Why

A Send This option on a useful and ubiquitous Share This widget can provide your users with a convenient and familiar method for sharing more content and objects and applications with each other. If they opt to execute their direct sharing through your widget, you can learn from the behavioral patterns and optimize your interfaces and your offerings.

Related Patterns

As Seen On

  • Yahoo!
  • Flickr
  • New York Times
  • The Onion

Sources / Similar Patterns in Other Libraries