5 Ways Popups Can Drive Your Users Mad

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This is a guest post by Ada Ivanova of WinkPress. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

There are many annoyances on the Web and popups frequently top the chart. Of course, if you know how to use them, popups don’t have to be an annoyance but thanks to their blatant use, or more precisely misuse and outright abuse, they do have a bad name. This is somehow unfair because popups can do a great job but if you violate some obvious rules about their proper use, it is not a surprise that your users will get mad.

Here are some ways to drive your users mad by popups. Needless to say, these aren’t tips to follow. On the contrary, these are tips to stay away from as far as possible.

1. Show Popups All the Time

A popup every now and then is fine but when you overstep the line and start displaying popups without measure, this will drive even the calmest user mad. Put a popup on every single page, or even better — display them all the time while the user is on the page and this guarantees user madness. You might be wondering who will do something so lame but believe me, there are webmasters who are doing it.

In fact, quite recently I was subject exactly to this treatment — I close the popup without closing the page itself and in a split second, the same popup reappears. I close it again and switch to another tab and when I get back … can you guess what I see? The same old popup. When I loaded a different page, the same popup appeared shortly. Boy, this isn’t the way to use popups for sure!

2. Hide the Close Button

In the previous example, the Close button was there but in fact, it was absolutely useless. However, if you care about your users, you do need to put a Close button that closes the popup once and forever. I guess in some cases the Close button should be called the Get Rid Of button but no matter how you call it, it needs to be there. What is more, it needs to be large enough and in a visible place. If your users don’t want to see the popup, obstructing their way to closing it won’t make them love it more.

3. Put Sound and Video and Provide No Way to Stop Them

There are really powerful WordPress popup plugins that allow making your popups rich by placing sound and video inside. In itself, this is great but only when you don’t abuse the feature. If you do — i.e. if you put sound/video in the popup and decide that the user doesn’t need a way to stop them because you want him or her to watch it at any cost, this is really a reason for a user with a brain to leave your site in a millisecond.

4. Make the Popup As Irrelevant As Possible

If the creative approaches to popup abuse listed so far didn’t complete the mission to make your users mad, don’t give up — there are some more to try. For instance, why not make the popup as irrelevant as possible? Let’s say you have a family-oriented site. Wouldn’t it be great to run some gambling ads on it? If this doesn’t fill your inbox with complaints, you could give alcohol and tobacco ads a try. I’m joking, of course, but unfortunately, I see such outrageous examples of popup abuse so frequently that it isn’t funny at all.

5. Keep Your Users Waiting

Users hate fast Internet and sites that load fast drive them mad. Well, you might feel nostalgic about the good ol’ times in the early 1990s when you were on a dialup connection and sites took ages to load but in 2012 it is totally unacceptable to have to wait for ages for a site to load simply because the popup you have placed is so fat that it loads forever, blocking all the other content on the page in the meantime.

When I give tips, I am usually happy when users follow them. Well, this is an exception — I will be much happier if nobody shows popups all the time, or hides the Close button, or applies any of the other popup annoyances I listed here. Still, I am not overly optimistic that these lame practices will die quickly but if their number is decreased, this is enough for me to be happy.

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