This was my rant about a trend from the early days of ‘web 2.0’ websites and their overuse of lightbox. Things seem to have changed for the better since then, but a rant was due:

“Millions of people can’t be wrong!” I once made the mistake of blurting this phrase to my coworker.  The reply to which became a fiduciary of my intellect: “Yes they can…And usually are.”

Looking back on that moment brings both a chill to my spine and a smile to my face.  In a world of ‘social engineering’ I now think of myself more as a ‘social economist’ than anything else. Predicting outcomes based on public ignorance and trend-gazing has become easy.  I’m not even close to 100% accurate but I do better than…well…most everyone else.

One of the most recent trends I’ve noticed is the use of ‘lightbox’ in photoblogs.  How cute it is to have your little script driven picture show that circumvents the navigation functions of your web browser.  A nice looking tool?  Yes.  Should you use it?  Your choice.  Is it serving a purpose on your site?  Probably not.

It wasn’t even a choice for me when I built my site.  Too many people had already annoyed me with their ‘look what I can do’ gadget of dysfunctionality.  Where are the multiple image sizes?  What about a mosaic image?  And certainly what happens when you want to write a few words about the world?

These questions made me remember my conversation about the millions of people.  Makes me wonder about Toyota.  The company that literally reinvented the lever – and failed.  A website is only as good as it’s usefulness. If it doesn’t do what the reader wants, it’s going to cause hesitation when the reader is thinking of your site again.  Lightbox is a great fad; Furby would be proud, but please bring the functionality back to your pages and use a less obtrusive way of showcasing your work.  After all do you want everyone to notice your site design?  Or your photographs?


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