Module Monday: Slidebox

How to Display "Next Step" or "Next Article" Reader Prompts in Drupal 7

Keeping visitors to your site reading and clicking (and -- let's be honest, viewing ads) once they've finished an article can be challenging. Often, lists of related articles or hot news are embedded at the end of each article to provide readers with an easy "next step," but these can easily be lost in the noise of a dense footer or link-heavy site. Enter Slidebox, a svelte module that uses interesting jQuery tricks to prompt users who've finished an article with a smoothly animated link to another one.

Screenshot of the Slidebox module in action

Setting up Slidebox is a snap: just turn it on, tell it what node types its "Next article" box should appear on, and you're ready to go. While it's possible to tweak the values that control how long the Slidebox animations should take, the defaults it ships with are sensible. The magic happens once you pop open a node and scroll to the bottom of its content: a tidy little box slides out from the right side of the window, prompting you with the title of the "Next Article." It's simple, attractive, and easy to dismiss. Also, because it appears when the user scrolls to the end of the node content, not the bottom of the page, it doesn't require that readers wade deep into a crowded site's footer or other "below the fold" content to see the link.

Screenshot of Slidebox settings

Slidebox's settings are currently pretty sparse: there's no way to exercise more control over what list of nodes should be used to find the next article, and you can only customize the contents of the "Next Article" box by cracking open theme template files. There's a lot of interest in the issue queue around turning the module into a more API-driven tool that supports Views and other entities, however, so keep a close eye on how it evolves. For now, it's a clean and simple tool that does one thing and does it well!

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