In this post, we will explore that cost and then break down when it is safe and not so safe to use popups.
You only need to look at your analytics after installing a popup to see they work. They will increase your newsletter sign-ups, app downloads or whatever call to action you promote. But that isn’t the whole picture.
Like dark patterns, popups may improve things in the short term, but it can come at a long term cost. Your analytics do not show the level of irritation that popups can cause users. Anger that reduces their likelihood to return to your site regularly and which alienate some people entirely.
Of course, this kind of irritation is hard to track. There is not always a direct causal relationship between reduced dwell time, page views and return traffic, so people don’t realise that popups can be at least partly responsible.
However, if you run qualitative research such as usability testing, you will quickly see just how annoyed users can become when having to dismiss popups.
Not that every management team cares about alienating users. However, they should. In the long term, this can reduce lifetime value, word of mouth recommendations and repeat business.
Not all popups are bad. Everything has its place. However, the majority of popups I see online are nothing more than an irritant to most users.
The three biggest culprits are:
Like most popups these three culprits share specific characteristics that users find particularly annoying.
Do not misunderstand me. Not all popups are bad. There are times when they are precisely the right solution.
For example, if I want to promote a newsletter or some other call to action, I wait until the user has either completed their main task (such as making a purchase) or until they go to leave the website (known as exit intent).