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I have a blog that focuses on listicles that's very image heavy (eg. 10 Cats That Looks Like Madonna). And I'm trying to make it as "share friendly" as possible.

So far, I have had floating share buttons that follow the user as they scroll.

enter image description here

This design seems to be popular among most sites.

However, what I've noticed is that sites like Buzzfeed, ViralNova and Distractify that are more image heavy don't have fixed share buttons at all. Instead they have their share buttons pop up whenever you hover on an image.

enter image description here

I'm wondering what benefits this has over the standard floating buttons design?

My guess is having the share buttons "pop up" catches the user's attention, but so does having a floating bar follow you around.

Upworthy claimed hovering buttons increased their shares by 398%. But I'm a little skeptical as they have now changed their design to floating.

Another benefit I could think of is that hovering buttons allow users to share different parts of the article. But how important is that to the user?

So yeah, I'm wondering what's better for an image heavy site (listicles), floating or hovering share buttons?

  • How does someone on a tablet trigger the hover? – JonW Dec 13 '14 at 14:36
  • If I remember correctly the tablet versions only have static share buttons (before and after article). – Tony Fire Dec 13 '14 at 14:46
  • Website UX elements that rely on hover are going to break on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets unless you separately provide a different mechanism for those users. – Bevan Dec 13 '14 at 22:47
  • True. The hovering share buttons will only affect desktop users. – Tony Fire Dec 14 '14 at 0:20
  • I agree with Bevan and JonW, the following websites uses this concept excellently: imgur.com/a/rZXdI 9gag.com I don't see the need for the floating buttons here. And look at how buzzfeed.com works on mobile. They have this really tiny button, which when opens the sharing option above image, here the screenshot: prntscr.com/5gtydz – Pj_ Dec 14 '14 at 19:46
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If controls float with users' scrolling, it can be irritating, specifically in the case of image-heavy services that tend to overload their users with visual content. I prefer sharing buttons to appear on hover, they tend to steal too much attention from the content and should be an opt-in.

Hovering an image (video component etc) when you need to operate it is a conventional behaviour, so there's no need to worry users won't find it.

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I am really bad person to answer this as I hate both social media and "listicles", but the benefit of "pop up" is simple enough. They save space. Basically, if your site has lots of separate items you want people to share separately, it becomes desirable for every item to have separate sharing option without more than one being visible at a time. So if you want images to be shareable individually putting the relevant options into a pop-up would be reasonable. If you just want the "listicles" to be shared, floating is easier to use. It all comes down to how many shareable items you want to have at the same time.

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