There are not many aspects of web design that seem to ignite the same fascination in developers as making elements dynamic by hiding and showing them on user interaction. Collapsible lists, maps with hover elements and multi level drop-down navigations still seem to be hot and need to be part of a web site to make it "cool" and to "increase usability". Much like the magician conjuring the rabbit out of the top hat for the tenth time in a row, this design stunt does gets a bit stale though. Maybe it is time to take a step back and look at what we do.
Dynamic Page Elements-Cloak and Dagger Web Design - Conclusion and Notes (Page 10 of 10 )
Wrapping up, it can be said that it is very easy to use hidden elements in a way that makes them more of a burden than a blessing. This applies especially to elements that are hidden and shown when the user hovers over other elements, which is a shame, because it makes the page appear a lot more interactive. Clicking elements does trigger an already known functionality - navigating to other pages or sending off form data. When we change this behaviour to make our solution more reliable, we change patterns the users already follow without needing to think about what they do.
As we don't know the users' setup and their abilities we cannot create a bullet-proof solution. Browser bugs add their share to render theoretically perfect solutions unusable. For the time being, we have to live with the certainty that we will repell possible users when we create dynamic page elements. It is up to us to judge if the benefits of them are worth that. Best case scenario would be to allow the user to turn off the solution via a page control.
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