I’ve made a couple of tweaks to the Text2Go website over the weekend. Both are what I consider to be useability improvements and are similar in nature.
The first involves the playing of text-to-speech samples. These are stored as mp3 files. When a visitor clicked on a sample, an audio player was displayed in the middle of a blank page and the sound was played. It worked but was a bit disconcerting and it did mean the visitor had to hit the ‘Back’ button to return to the current page.
I really wanted the sample to be played in place, so the visitor didn’t loose their context. A quick search of the web turned up a very handy script written by David Battino that did just what I wanted. It pops up a small window containing the audio controls over the top of the main page. The full article describing the script is Build a Better Web Audio Player.
The second tweak was to the Features page and the way screenshots are displayed. Previously when you clicked on a screenshot it was displayed in its own page. Once again, the visitor was forced to hit the ‘Back’ button to return to the Features page. Patrick McKenzie posted recently about a neat little script that displays screenshots using a lightbox. I’ve used his enhanced script which is based on Lokesh Dhakar’s original lighbox. Using the lightbox, clicking on a screenshot causes it to be displayed on top of the current page. To emphasize the screenshot, the main page is dimmed. The result is a not only cool but a more user-friendly experience I believe.