Where you can stick your social networking buttons

Why is it that every website seems compelled to include social media buttons these days? More to the point, why do they do it with no thought as to the best place to stick them!

It’s probably best to get something straight before this goes any further. I like social media. I get amongst it on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. I love sharing things, and having things shared with me. Up to a point.

There are just two things I don’t understand. Why every website out there thinks people want to share its content, and (assuming they do) why they put the social media buttons in the most ridiculous place possible.

I can’t ever imagine a time when I’d want to +1 a pint of milk, like a toothbrush, or tweet about an item of clothing. It may be that I’m just not down with the cool kids, and I’m quite prepared to admit I may be the only person that feels this way.

So, on the assumption that there could well be legions of dairy product enthusiasts out there, just waiting to share their favourite carton of moo juice with their social networks, why do websites make it so awkward to do it?

If you decide you’re going to like, +1, tweet or share something, you really need to know what it is first. So why (oh why) do so many websites put all the social networking buttons before the interesting bit of the page?

It might not matter so much if you’re sighted or a mouse user, but if you’re not, the experience is quite frankly a pain in the social network! There are few things more irritating than wading through umpteen different buttons, before you’ve read the content you’re being invited to share.

What makes it worse, is that if you do decide to let out your inner dairy enthusiast and share something with your social networks, you then have to go all the way backwards in order to do it.

So where should you stick your social networking buttons? The short answer is after the content you’d like people to share. Think of it like a form. You want people to take some action once they’ve completed doing something else. In this case, you want people to share your content once they’ve finished reading it.

For screen reader users or people who don’t use a mouse, this means putting it after the main content in the source order. Visually it may mean putting it underneath the main content, or perhaps off to the right somewhere instead.

Now if you don’t mind I’m off to look at some lovely milkshakes I heard about somewhere...

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