Attack of the pop-ups

Monstrous pop-ups don’t really attack your face, but it can feel that way.

It is a dark and stormy night. The only light in your room is the glow of your computer screen. You need to look up one last thing on the Internet before you go to sleep. Slowly, slowly, a website begins to load when suddenly … AAAH! … a monster attacks your face!

Wait … no … deep breath. It was just a pop-up jumping out from the web page.

As an adult, you know monsters don’t live under beds; they live in woodland caves or underground parking garages. You also know that pop-up windows are now commonplace on the web.

The worst ones look and behave like monsters. You recoil in horror at their hideous design. You back into a corner as they gang up to crowd your screen. You look desperately for a means of escape but the X that should mark the exit is missing.

Pop-up horror shows send people screaming into the night or clicking frantically to their browser settings to block pop-ups. To see our favorite pop-up horror show, click here.

But pop-ups don’t have to be monsters! If you design them well and implement them with specific intent, they can be great tools for your business or nonprofit.

Research shows that a call to action placed on a pop-up typically provides an extraordinary increase in the response rate when compared with calls to action placed elsewhere on a webpage. The reason is clear.

Pop-ups force visitors to momentarily shift their attention. Some shift just long enough to close the pop-up window, but others read the message and answer the call to action.

Follow these tips to create friendly pop-ups that invite a response:

  • DON’T scare people. Wait until a visitor has been on your site for 30-60 seconds, or visited more than one page, before you display your pop-up. Give your pop-up a clean, simple design that is easy to read. Fade the page content behind the pop-up window to eliminate visual clutter.
  • DON’T trap people. Prominently display the exit X in the top right corner of the pop-up window and set up the window to close automatically when people click on the page behind it.
  • DON’T stalk people. Utilize cookies and tracking software to suppress the pop-up when a returning visitor (a) has already taken the action being requested, (b) has been shown your pop-up within the last 30 days, or (c) has closed your pop-up window multiple times.
  • DO make it interactive. State a clear call to action that people can take immediately, such as entering an e-mail address.

Need help with design for print or web? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].

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