Widespread social sharing is the goal (perhaps the dream) of just about every blogger. We want readers to invite other readers, by sharing our posts on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, Google +1, or other favorite social network. If our goal is to help people with each posted tutorial or tip, there’s no better proof of success than seeing readers pass our information on to their friends.
So in web design, we try to make sharing easy. We put the buttons and icons for sharing tools in easy reach, and obvious at a glance. The problem that comes up is the clutter. How many services should we represent with icons? How many counters? Should we put them at the top of the post? The bottom? Both? What about all the bright colors? Sometimes the effort to include a generous selection of social sharing icons ends up looking more like a charm bracelet or a spilled candies than helpful interactive links.
One inspiring solution comes from the Huffington Post. Instead of stringing their social sharing icons like so many hankies on a clothesline, Huffington’s designer has grouped them in a neat little box off to one side:
I fell in love with this solution as soon as I saw it: it’s compact, organized, and toned down, so it doesn’t fight with the design or interrupt the visual relationship between the post title and the body of the entry. But it’s handy enough to be found at a glance. It’s a compact bale of collected social sharing tools. The text simply flows naturally around the bundle like a lazy river. and your eyes do too.
It works so well, you can surround your core 4 with other conversion options: here on this example above, the mailing list signup form is part of the “social icons bundle.”
Giving readers social icons goes from annoying to elegant; from being a sprawling mess to a composed graphic. Who else likes this too?