Online pop-ups: amazingly annoying or annoyingly amazing?

First, let's define the term pop-up: Automatic pop-ups are windows opened in a new browser or tab, generated via JavaScript. These include pop-ups on retail ads, software service sites, even the small alert pop-ups that appear on the bottom right hand corner of your computer screen. Next, let's agree: Everybody hates pop-up windows.

In most cases, pop-ups are usually ineffective as an advertising tool. They frequently get blocked by pop-up blocker, which is an integrated part of most browsers today. Additionally, window pop-ups can be harmful to webpage usability, since there is no option to navigate back to the page the visitor was on, and are usually closed as soon as they are opened.

Would you use Wikipedia as often as you do if you kept on getting these annoying pop-ups?

The "Up" Side

However, believe it or not, some industries thrive off of this annoyance. For example, the gaming and diet industry heavily depend on pop-ups to get the attention of a customer. And it seems to work.

Pop-ups can also serve as great reminders, such as the time life of your computer battery, an incoming e-mail, or chat buddy online. And even though it's hard to admit, every now and then there are those rare pop-ups that offer amazing sales or opportunities you just can't miss out on.

Rule of Thumb

Here are a few thumb rules for dealing with this issue:

  • If you're using a pop-up to get visitors' attention for promotion purposes, do it on the web page itself and simply implement a div with the message. You can even test shading in the background.
  • Many websites stick to their window pop-ups because they are known to work, especially in advertising. Take the time to think about your website personas. Once you know what your visitors are looking for, you can make it the main message of the original webpage they land on.

If you are currently using pop-ups for your online business, consider finding other ways around it. You might just find other web elements that work better and that are far less annoying for visitors. If you are not able to do so, that's okay too. We're not judging :-)

This post is one out of Clicktale's month long May Marketing Madness series. Each of our daily posts will highlight and explain today's best practices, useful tips and smart tools to measure and improve your online business performance. This week's theme is usability. Make sure to stay tuned in for more!


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