According to usability expert Jakob Nielson, 95% of website visitors absolutely hate with a passion unexpected or unwanted pop-up windows, especially those that contain unsolicited advertising. In fact, it is the Number 1 Most Hated Advertising Technique!
It is inconvenient to find, however, that pop-ups can increase signup subscription conversions on a blog like this one, by over a whopping 50% when used, as I do sometimes.
Creating a new browser window should be the authority of the user. Do not try to pop-up new windows to clutter the user’s screen.
All links should open in the same window by default. An exception, however, may be made for pages containing a links list. It is convenient in such cases to open links in another window, so that the user can come back to the links page easily.
Even in such cases, it is advisable to give the user a prior note that links would open in a new window.
Pop Up Window Tips:
- Tell visitors they are about to invoke a pop up window (using the link <title> attribute)
- Popup windows do not work in all browsers.
- They are disorienting for users
- Provide the user with an alternative.
UK Government recommendations:
‘All links must open in the same window by default’
Guidelines for UK Government websites
Illustrated handbook for Web management teams
- Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001
- Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites
- Web Accessibility Code Of Practice British Standard
A TEST With Using A Pop Up Window
Pop ups suck, everybody seems to agree. Here’s the little test I carried out an experiment to see if pop ups work on this site to convert more visitors to subscribers.
I used this WordPress pop-up plugin (aff) on my blog, and I actually tested it out a few months ago when I didn’t blog for a few months and traffic was very stable.
Testing Pop Up Windows Results
|Pop Up Window||Total %Change|
|WK1 On||Wk2 Off|
That’s a fair increase in email subscribers across the board in this small experiment on this site. Using a pop up does seem to have an immediate impact.
I have since tested it on and off for a few months and the results from the small test above have been repeated over and over.
I’ve tested different layouts and different calls to actions without pop-ups, and they work too, to some degree, but they typically take a bit longer to deploy than activating a plugin.
I don’t really like pop-ups as they have been an impediment to web accessibility but it’s stupid to dismiss out-of-hand any technique that works. I’ve also not found a client who, if they had that kind of result, would choose accessibility over sign-ups.
I don’t really use the pop up on days I post on the blog, as in other tests, it really seemed to kill how many people share a post in social media circles.