If youâ€™re a regular visitor to this blog, youâ€™ll know that itâ€™s â€œenhanced with Apture.â€ Well, you may not know that, actually. But you will have experienced Apture when youâ€™ve clicked on certain links that show you information as elegant popup screens overlaying what you’re reading on this site instead of taking you away.
Try it for yourself on this link to see what I mean: It’s Mothering Sunday today in the UK. You should see a discreet popup with content from Wikipedia’s entry.
Feedback I get about this feature is uniformly positive. Most people say they like the elegance of the popups presenting information thatâ€™s complementary to what theyâ€™re engaged with right now on the site. Itâ€™s not the main content so they can quickly review it, dismiss it and get on with whatâ€™s caught their prime interest. They also like that the popups appear only when you click a link rather than that really irritating way of others that pop up as soon as you move your mouse over a link.
Following some months of beta testing, Apture have rolled out version 2 of their overall service to beta testers. Among the new features is a nifty customisable toolbar thatâ€™s invisible by default when you first land here and which you see at the top of your browser screen when you start scrolling down the page.
Aptureâ€™s participating at the South by Southwest Interactive event in Austin, Texas, this weekend, and there they just announced the toolbarâ€™s general availability. Theyâ€™re calling it â€œthe Magic Search Bar.â€
Usually, Iâ€™m not a big fan of toolbars that appear on websites when you visit, finding few of much redeeming value. Indeed, the first version of Aptureâ€™s toolbar during early beta testing didn’t appeal to me at all. It popped up at the bottom of the screen and was always-on by default. Pretty irritating, I thought.
The one you see now, though, is much better in terms of how and when it appears at the top of the screen, and better reflecting Aptureâ€™s overall discretion in how popup functionality works on a site (in my case, handled via a clever WordPress plugin).
It also has functionality that Iâ€™m sure many people will find useful, like the search box (which you can use to search the whole web or just this site) and share links for Facebook, Twitter and email.
So I like it and plan to post some thoughts once Iâ€™ve seen what it can do over time. What do you think of it?
And thereâ€™s more coming soon, says Apture in an email about the new features:
[â€¦] We are putting the finishing touches on a full statistics platform for you to see what topics your readers are searching for, how many shares each of your articles are receiving and much more. Keep your eyes peeled to your inbox.
If you want to provide some useful functionality to the readers of your blog, whatever self-hosted platform you use, sign up for Apture. Itâ€™s free.