Not every bit of additional control, information, or dialog with the user needs to be an overlay. Another approach is to inlay the information directly within the page itself. To distinguish from the pop-up overlay, we call these in-page panels Inlays.
A simple technique is to expand a part of the page, revealing a dialog area within the page. The BBC recently began experimenting with using a Dialog Inlay as a way to reveal customization controls for its home page (Figure 6-1).
Figure 6-1. The BBC home page puts its customization tools in an inlay that slides out when activated
Of course an overlay could have been used instead. However, the problem with overlays is that no matter where they get placed, they will end up hiding information. Inlays get around this problem by inserting themselves directly into the context of the page.
Inlays provide in-context dialog with the user.
This Dialog Inlay is similar to a drawer opening with a tray of tools. Instead of being taken to a separate page to customize the home page appearance, the user can make changes and view the effects directly. The advantage is the ability to tweak the page while viewing the actual page.
My Yahoo! also provides a Dialog Inlay for revealing its home page customization ...