Way back in the early days of the internet popups were everywhere, offering deals and making navigation impossible. It didn’t take long before they were outlawed by Google’s Terms of Service and rightly so. Of course some enterprising marketer thought up a new way around that and now you have the “modal window” or overlay. These overlays want your visitor to complete some call to action, like a Facebook page or sign up for a newsletter. They are used by websites all over the net including high authority sites.
Guess what….They are still irritating!
Here’s a rant proving how irritating they are:
Why they are used
Modal windows can be used for good, they can give you a ton of information quickly if they are used properly. Unfortunately the most common reason they are used is to try and increase conversions. The most common modal window is the subscribe window, the objective is to gather email addresses and create a sales funnel.
Where it gets frustrating for the user is when it blocks the entire screen and prevents your users from accessing the site without signing in or subscribing or promising the webmaster your first born child. It’s a horrible experience for the user.
When they do work
There are some popups that actually do work, those are the tiny unobtrusive click to chat windows. They are usually hidden off to the side or in the bottom corner of the page. They don’t interfere with your ability to read the screen, and they are there to answer customer questions. It doesn’t get in the way of the user experience and it doesn’t hold your viewing experience for ransom.
Why they don’t always work
It’s understandable from the point of view of the site owner why they use them, they do increase conversions and the lower your bounce rate. Both are laudable goals but balance it against the user experience, and it really doesn’t paint an accurate picture of bounce rate. Here’s why they don’t always work.
They are very in your face and ask for too much information too quickly. You are asking users to subscribe to your site before they have even found what they are looking for. If your visitor is coming from a mobile device they are horrible to get rid of. If the modal window pops up too soon, your visitor really isn’t that engaged with your content and will like hit unsubscribe with the first newsletter.
When to use them
Sparingly…very sparingly! If you’re relying on modal windows heavily to increase your email list it’s time to look at your design and get something that converts better for you.
If you insist on a modal window for subscribers then at least wait until your visitor is halfway down the page before trying to grab their email address.