#019 - Pop-ups: Naughty or nice?
Not every journey should be frictionless.
About pop-ups (or the bit where I re-hash what you might already know)
Pop-ups are just one way of displaying content throughout the user journey.
We talk about pop-ups as a way of displaying content in a modal box/window that sits "over" the main page content to get users to ‘do a thing’. The pop up might exist:
as an announcement bar at the top or bottom of a screen
as a slide in box, at any height and from any side
as a full page 'takeover', that blocks you from accessing other content until taking an action.
Usually, a goal of UX is to create a “frictionless” experience.
But pop-ups are the opposite of "frictionless": they're "pattern disruptors".
They stop you in the process of carrying out the action you were just doing.
Naughty pop ups
Don't follow familiar design patterns. They make it hard for the user to understand how to close or dismiss them.
Hide important content the user needs to do a job. For example, a pop-up might completely obscure the home page when you first land on a website from a Google search, so you can’t check that you’ve landed in the best place from your search or orient yourself on the site.
Carry on like jerks in the copy. Naughty pop-ups say things like 'No, I don't like free stuff' or 'I'll stay uninformed, thank you'.
Nice pop ups
Consider when they should show themselves.
One form of pop-up that really gets my goat is the pop-up that shows on exit intent, that is, when I make a move to leave a site. I’ve already decided I don’t want to be here, stop being so annoying.
So, if we were to make this exit intent pop-up ‘nice’, we might instead choose to display it based on time on page or scroll depth (how far someone has scrolled into a page).
Here are some scenarios where this disruption might help rather than hinder.
A user is reading a very lengthy white-paper on your site. Once they get half way through the content, the pop up asks if they'd prefer to download the PDF version, to print and read later.
A user is reading about a conference you're hosting. They spend some time on the agenda, and the pop up offers them the chance to download the brochure and business case for their boss.
Aren't unnecessarily obtrusive.
Pop-up placement can make all the difference.
Do you really need a user to slow their roll and stop? Block that screen baby.
But if you want to bring their attention to an important update, and it's not essential information, you might be better off trying an announcement bar.
Do you actually just want to offer them a cool deal or guide to help them on their way? A cute little slide in should do nicely.
Have a clear goal that you can test against.
When you're playing with interrupting patterns, you want to be able to test what does/doesn't work, across the user journey.
Add 'good' friction.
Nice pop-ups get agreement, double check, or deliver a warning.
'Are you sure you want to transfer $200 to Willy Wonka now?'
'Do you want to leave without saving?'
These types of pop ups are very important and useful. Sometimes we need to be reminded to slow down before we hurt ourselves.
The lesson: pop-up wisely.
Make sure you know exactly what you want to achieve before you add or remove friction from an experience.
And try to be nice about it.