There was once a time when pop ups on your computer meant you had a horrible virus, the bane of the life of the user, constantly annoying you when you tried to do something. Then they stopped, anti-virus programs got better and people just got smarter, everything was great. Then they started coming back again and now they are more annoying then ever.
The new laws around cookies mean that if you live in the EU then you see a pop up on every single website you go onto, they have become so complex now you feel like you’re signing a contract just to read an article. But it doesn’t have to be like this!
You are currently inundated with annoying full screen modals on websites, whether you’re needing to accept cookies to track you throughout a website, download a white paper, sign up to their newsletter, or look at a picture of their puppy on a swing.
This is taking us back so many steps and will definitely be annoying your users and the question that needs to be asked by design and marketing teams is not “what can we put in a pop up” but “does this really need to be a pop up?”
Take a cookie acceptance notification as an example, on larger websites these come as a super complex pop up and you are not allowed to do anything until you have ticked all the boxes. But, EU directives say that implied consent is fine and the whole reason this cookie law was enacted was to make people inform users about them. In these cases, do you really need to have a pop up?
Mostly the answer to this is no. Cookie consents work fine as banners, if they cover a navigation bar or a logo fine, but they certainly don’t need to stop the user viewing content. Most other pop ups can have the same reasoning, marketing teams are thinking too much about how to force content down the throats of their users instead of working it into good content.
The first thing you need to do when designing a pop up, is not design a pop up. Most of the time a pop up is distracting and annoying, which is why you shouldn’t use them.
Google, and a bunch of leading businesses, have created the Coalition for Better Ads which focuses on researching and advising on the better way to use on site elements to advertise and it is definitely what you should be using to figure out how to upsell things you need to without alienating your viewers.
If you have to design a pop up, then there are some key mistakes that you should avoid:
Make sure it doesn’t load after your content. This is one key annoyance for people, when reading your content the last thing they want to be is distributed halfway through a sentence. A pop up loads before content or not at all.
Content should be short and simple. There should not be a lot of content on on a pop up, it isn’t a place for essays or wordy advertisements and try to avoid rich elements like forms and tick boxes.
Passive aggressive wording doesn’t sell. Never try and guilt your audience into whatever it is you want them to buy. “Oh so you don’t want to be up to date with news” is going to turn more people away than it is gain.
Make the close button obvious and easy to click. We all know the running joke that mobile advertising has become with miniscule close buttons – it’s an obvious thing to say but make sure anyone can easily click on it.