opinion

The Dance of the Seven Veils

Stephen Yagielowicz
It's one of the oldest recorded seductions; played out as the slutty Salome fueled her uncle's incestuous desires by performing the Dance of the Seven Veils, which revealed more and more of this supple young nymph as she removed her silken veils. Her reward for this treat was the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter — a gift from her uncle, King Herod.

It wasn't the first time that a woman peered out from behind a veil, attempting to seduce an admirer — and it wasn't the last. And while veiled goddesses are not as common in the western world as they are elsewhere on planet earth, a virtual version of this infamous dance is now live in cyberspace and pushing my buttons.

An expansion of the modal window warning page I've previously discussed at XBIZ, which lays a dark, transparent veil across the web page with an age verification / TOS panel that must be explicitly agreed to or exited before the site can be accessed, with an effect not unlike the dark plastic wrappers covering men's magazines on a newsstand, I've taken the process one step further now by using a CSS opacity filter as a mouseover on the underlying thumbs.

You've seen the effect on many TGPs and elsewhere; the thumbnail images are either "clear" or "darkened" — the mode of which usually changes once you click on it, and is often a "clear" to "darkened" process, shadowing the thumbs of visited galleries.

I've reversed it so that by default, the thumb table is darkened by a veil similar to the warning screen overlay. When you mouseover a thumb, the veil is lifted and the image is displayed clearly; mouseout and the veil returns.

What's cool is that when first visiting the site, you have that main warning veil, which allows you to just see enough to know what's inside and if you want to click through, but still mitigating any "accidental" viewing of "harsh" material. Underneath this, you see the thumb table, but since it too has a veil, it's doubly dark and mysterious — fueling curiosity and hopefully increasing click-throughs. As a side note, affiliate tools, such as the "now online" cam block, do not receive the added veiling, providing a unique illusion of depth to the page.

I'm calling the technique "progressive veiling" and I'm going to be exploring its use as a means of providing modifications to the temporal aspect of the user experience.

I've talked about my search for a way to influence the visitor's perception of time and space, without making the surfing experience "slower" (as in increasing page load times) and this has been one of the most promising avenues that I've explored. And I think it looks cool, too.

Another cool element is a bug in the code that is keeping one of the Flash ads on top of the veil — I haven't been able to solve the problem, which is seen in several browsers, but it's become a unique design element and opportunity to send visitors to my primary sponsor before they even enter my site.

But you'll have to take my word for it as I'm not going to make it that easy for you to get ahead of me on this as to toss out a link. Well, maybe once it's out of alpha...

For an alternate perspective on what's "cool," however, my lovely wife says that "It looks like a little kid put it together using bits and pieces of other people's stuff — but it is cool — I've never seen anything like it!"

Still, the concept of using depth and transparency as an aid to seduction is timeless — whether your goal is to induce a click — or to get a little head. Add a few veils to your site and see if it works for you.

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