Pop-ups: from bad to worse

Posted on November 25, 2010


What’s worse than a pop-up? A delayed pop-up.

popupsExperienced web designers and SEO experts both recommend against using pop-ups on your websites. They can be startling to the Internet user and, more importantly, are annoying. Some businesses have absorbed this message and decided that the way to use this attention-grabbing device without startling people is to delay it, allowing users to see the page for a few seconds before the pop-up hits.

It’s true that pop-ups grab attention, but it’s generally of the wrong kind. If you’re an Internet user, it is very startling indeed to feel that you’ve got comfortable with a website, only to have it throw something horrible at you as soon as you make a move. Some Internet users may do what you want them to and act upon the information within the pop-up, but this is such a small percentage that it doesn’t seem worth the risk. It definitely isn’t in SEO terms. Pop-ups can be killers for your time-on-page statistics, and your bounce rate.

Delayed pop-ups can do even worse things for your conversions. Once you’ve got an Internet user on your site, one of the most important jobs is to convince them to stay. Delayed pop-ups try to force Internet users into an action, something that will not be effective with the majority of visitors and will cause many to leave the site. Not many websites can afford this kind of return on their traffic.

Pop-ups can be a necessity of design, but use with caution. If you’ve got pop-up elements on your site that are triggered by specific actions from the user, make sure they’re what the user wants. A warning doesn’t go astray, either.

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