Thursday, June 24, 2010

Uses Of Opera's Info Panel And Link Panel

I've often wondered how to make use of the info and link panels that Opera provides, because I think that Opera's panels are so underused. In the remainder of this blog entry, I share 2 wonderful discoveries that might help you out. Power users probably know about them, already, though.

It seems that I get the best use out Info Panel when I am blogging, and would like to provide a link. Some web pages don't provide the article title on the page. It's only displayed in the window's title bar, at the top. As many of you already know, that text is part of the title element. Info Panel offers that text and the web page address in a convenient manner. Also, when using the lock, you can keep that information right in front of you. In other words, you don't have to switch tabs to copy and paste the article title and the web address. I find this extremely convenient and comfortable. Not only that, you can close the tab, after locking the panel, and still have the information accessible.

The Links Panel is similar, in that you can lock it, and close the tab, or switch tabs, and still have access to the links. This is amazing to me, because I often want to close a tab, when a flash application on the page is slowing the page down.

Links Panel also helps to make a web page more accessible to other media that run Opera: it lists the links in an orderly manner; and it lets you see the links without the images that a web page often requires. On some web sites, you might need to see an image to even know that you have to click something to continue. When I reach an apparent dead end, my usual response is to show all images, but maybe I can avoid it all together, reducing the amount of data transferred, and the time it takes to load a page.

Another interesting thing that I noticed about Links Panel is that some CSS seems to shine through. I notice that some links are different cololurs. Some are bold. We could make use of this to improve usability, if we decide to craft our web pages with the links panel in mind.

I'm sure that there must be more uses and benefits to Links Panel. On most web pages, a lot of links are purely there for navigation, throughout the web site. Removing these navigation links from the page would improve the beauty of the page, and usability. As it is, with small devices, we typically see a skip to content link. We could avoid that link all together, if we could hide the links, and make use of Links Panel.

I've never used Opera on mobile devices, so I don't even know whether or not those Opera versions have panels.

I'm going to experiment with this a little, and then report back to you, with another blog entry. I want to move all relevant links to the navigation bar, and then have the remainder of the site's navigation to be visible only in Links Panel.

I think that Opera fans have a bright future!

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