I just had to write this short post this week, though I should have probably written it a long time ago I'm now thinking.
OK, how many times have you clicked on a search engine search result listing, only to find that the page you’re taken to takes a month of Sundays to load? (A month of Sundays meaning a very long time). A good few times I'm guessing.
I know there are many reasons why a page can take so long to load, but in this post I want to talk about one element, pop-ups!
When you land on a website you’re more often than not greeted with some kind of pop-up, whether it’s an opt-in form or an advertisement, or a social ‘call to action’ or what ever, I don’t care, these pop-ups can be really annoying, and some of them can take up the whole screen and frustratingly, take a long old time to finally load.
The moment I see a pop-up I usually hit the back button, that’s just me, when I'm browsing the web, like many other people out there I have a short attention span.
You might be asking yourself for example “well OK you don’t like pop-ups, but what’s wrong with an innocent little pop-up opt-in form?”
In my humble opinion, if someone lands on your site or your blog for the very first time, shouldn't you at least allow them to explore your site and content before shoving an opt-in form in their face? At least give them some time before they make up their minds whether the content is relevant to them or not.
And what about your regular visitors, those who are loyal to your website or your blog, do they want to see an annoying pop-up each time they visit? Granted they are probably a lot more savvy than your regular visitors, and will probably look past your pop-ups, especially ads.
Generally though I think most pop-ups are damn right annoying, that’s my personal opinion on them. So why on earth would you drive visitors and potential customers away from your site, or your blog by using them the wrong way?
In addition to increasing page load time and generally being annoying, pop-ups can produce the following two major side effects on your site –
1. They can be intrusive and create bad user experience (pop-up ads), so if your aim is to drive your visitors away and sky rocket your bounce rate through the roof, AND to kill your conversions, then by all means keep using them. That’s the big side effect in my opinion.
2. A lot of spammy looking websites use pop-ups ads, even though they might be profitable in some way or form, using pop-up ads on your website or your blog could potentially make your site look just as spammy as those other sites that use them, don’t you think?
Ads that pop-up on screen are probably the most annoying form of pop-ups I've ever come across; I don’t care how relevant they are. Unless you’re the owner of a site as large as let’s say; Business Insider or Huffington Post where you can probably get away with pop-up ads and profit from them heavily, but it’s not worth sacrificing your visitors or loyal readers with on your relatively small website.
So are all pop-ups bad then?
I said earlier that most pop-ups are annoying and create bad user experience; I didn't say that all pop-ups were bad. A lot of bloggers and companies alike make very good use of pop-ups (leaving the ads aside).
If you’re able to make your pop-up 100% relevant to your site, something your users will greatly value from, then pop-ups can work. QuickSprout.com provides a solid example of how a pop-up can be used effectively. You run your website through their SEO analysis tool, it generates the results. Whilst you’re analysing the results shortly afterwards, a pop-up appears with a question or call to action, but it’s relevant, it’s useful and engaging.
That’s just one example of how a pop-up can be used effectively, there are countless other ways.
So like I said this is a very short post I know, but I just wanted to share with you my thoughts and opinions on ineffective use of website pop-ups.
Just to recap some of the pitfalls of using pop-ups in general -
- They can be annoying to first time, less marketing savvy visitors.
- They can be intrusive.
- They can make for bad user experience, therefore drive visitors away.
- Pop-up ads can appear spammy.
- And they can potentially kill your conversions, (pop-up ads)
I'm not telling you to go out and remove all the pop-ups from your website, I'm not telling you NOT to use pop-ups; I'm just voicing my personal opinion on using them. If you've been doing very well without them in the past, and are considering adding a pop-up of some sort to your site, think carefully before you do and how you do it.
Your thoughts please...
If you have anything to add to the conversation or you’d like to voice your thoughts and opinions on website pop-ups, or ask me a question even, please leave me a comment below as always.
Enjoy the rest of your week folks, thanks for reading.
Fabrizio Van Marciano
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shannonclark/
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