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Category Archives: Design

Making AddThis More Accessible

Most times when we announce a new feature or improvement, we invite you to take a look. This isn’t one of those times. Instead, this feature announcement is about listening and touching AddThis. We have updated our code to work better with keyboard navigation and screen readers. Now when you visit a site that is using AddThis, you can tab through all of the available sharing options. If you choose to see more options, you can easily filter the list of services and then tab to the one you like. We’ve also added focus styling so if you are navigating with a keyboard, you’ll have a better idea where you are. Also, if you are using a screen reader, you should properly hear the name of the service.

If you’re a publisher you might be asking yourself, “How do I make this available to my users?” It’s easy, we’ve enabled this for everyone. Your site’s visitors are now even more able to share whatever they like, wherever they like.

The key highlights of what we did:

  • Toolboxes are keyboard navable
  • Toolboxes are marked up so screen readers can use them all
  • The expanded menu is keyboard navable and closable with the esc key
  • Graphs and maps in analytics have alternatives for screen readers

At AddThis, all of our users are important to us and we believe it should be as easy as possible for users to share content from their favorite publishers. This is just one step in our continuous journey to make AddThis as great as we can. We have been able to get some feedback from Russell Heimlich and other accessibility experts to help make this happen. If you have ideas or suggestions on how we can give you a high quality experience with AddThis, please get in touch!

New Read It Later Icons

As services evolve and change their brand, we try to monitor their trends closely. Recently, our friends at Read It Later reached out to us to update their icons, and I just wanted to share the news. The new icons are scheduled to release soon, as well as many others.

Old Icons:

New Icons:

Ps. If you run a service in the AddThis menu and are changing your icons, be sure to let us know.

The New Twitter Icon

As services evolve and change their brand, we try to monitor trends as close as possible. Recently, we reached out to Twitter because we’ve noticed that they’ve been using the bird icon instead of the “T”. Often times it’s scary to change an icon that has so much recognition across the web. The first thing I usually ask is if the icon change will affect share rate. This is something that we’re going to be monitoring closely, and I’d love to share the results after we collect enough data.

New Icons:

Old Icons:

If you have AddThis installed on your site, we automatically update your icons on a regular basis. Also, if you run a service in the AddThis menu and you are changing your icons, be sure to let us know!

Designing for One Billion People – Refresh DC

Last night I had the opportunity to present a talk at Refresh DC titled “Designing for One Billion People.” It was an honor to present some of the amazing work the AddThis design and development teams have undertaken in the last two years, as we’ve grown the platform to over one billion users.

I touched on five strategies for designing to grow quickly:

  • Designing for growth: put customers first, establish a style and stick with it, keep a creative team as small as possible, iterate often and fail quickly.
  • Being “dangerously open”: embrace open standards, transparency, and empowering your customers to help you build your product.
  • Being data-informed: measure and test as much as possible, and use that information to inform product, design and business decisions.
  • Building to scale: Utilize a CDN, optimize code as well as images, and don’t forget to scale technical support and QA
  • Embracing customers: Listen to customers and engage them directly; put social media to work as a feedback cycle, not just a marketing channel; embrace beta-testing and empower developers who want to build tools for you.

Here are the slides from the talk.

AddThis: Designing for One Billion People – RefreshDC

Hear Jim Lane Speak at Refresh DC on Nov. 16th

Our Director of Product Management & User Experience Jim Lane is speaking at the Web design & development user group Refresh DC on November 16th at 7pm in Alexandria, VA.  He’ll be speaking about the challenges and opportunities that have come with designing and developing AddThis given its massive reach.

Regardless of whether your Web site or application reaches hundreds or millions, there’ll be lots of practical nuggets that you can walk away with.

If you live in the Washington, DC area, we hope that you’ll come out. Will be a great event.

New AddThis Menu for Easy iPad, iPhone, and Android Web Sharing

Today, we’re excited to announce a new version of the AddThis sharing menu for the Apple iPad, iPhone, and Google Android. Now, when you’re surfing the Web on one of these mobile devices and find an article you want to share, you’ll find a menu that’s much easier to use on a touch interface. This feature is automatically available to all of our publishers.

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Testing Slight UI Tweaks

Hey guys, as we’ve mentioned before, we’re constantly looking to test ways that we can improve the sharing experience so that we can get you more shares.

One example that we’ve talked about is the difference between having the compact menu appear on hover versus on click. When we tested it, we found that having the compact menu appear on hover gives a MUCH higher share rate. So… of course, we went with on hover.

Well, we have a few more very small user interface tweaks to the compact menu that we’d like to test. They’re pretty minor changes. We’re only going to show the tweaks on a very very very small percentage of menu views. It’s just enough to let us know whether or not the changes will move the needle for you guys.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to drop me a line. As I said, our goal is to get you guys more shares. We’re all a team in this effort. My e-mail address is – justin@addthis.com

AddThis Update: Web Site Redesign and New Forum, Analytics, Optimization, and Localization

Friends, first let me introduce myself. My name is Justin Thorp. I’m the Community Manager at Clearspring Technologies, the parent company of AddThis. Going forward, I will be working with Dom to help let you know about all the exciting developments planned for the AddThis sharing platform.

We’ve been heads down on adding and improving AddThis features. We want you to have the best tool possible for sharing your bookmarks and favorite Web pages.

Today, we’re pleased to announce a bunch of new features. Here’s a rundown:

Web Site Redesign & New Forum

First off, we’ve had our design and user-experience brain trust give the Web site a fresh coat of paint.  We hope that you like the new design. We want to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible for you to be able to grab/customize the AddThis button and view your stats.

When you go to view your reports, you’ll see that we’ve redesigned them too. We’ve put in all-new charts, which look hot and animate in a fun way, besides being way faster to generate than our old charts.  We’ve also added a forum. This is to better serve you and help you find answers to your problems. Hopefully this will also be a center of community and innovation around sharing, using the AddThis platform.

Analytics

We’ve integrated Clearspring’s analytics platform into AddThis. This means our analytics are going to be much faster and more reliable. Going forward, we’ll be able to collect more data and thus generate more reports that will show you how your content is getting shared across the Web.

Optimization

Our engineers have been working hard to optimize the AddThis sharing button. We want the button and menu to load as fast as possible. When your Web site or blog is getting viewed by a lot of people, every millisecond counts.  The button code is now just 3K at load time and only 17K once the user hovers and interacts with the menu. This continues to put us far ahead of the competition in regards to giving you the features you want, using the least amount code possible.

Localization

AddThis has also become a bit more worldly. We’ve recently added support for the following languages: Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Taiwanese.

The Future & Feedback

Again, we are focused on making sure that AddThis has the best features possible. In order to do this, we’re depending on your feedback. Please join us in the forums to discuss the future! You can also reach me personally at justin@clearspring.com.