We’ve all seen pop ups on a site before. In the early days of the .com boom they seemed to be everywhere. Pages would sometimes have several different pop ups, not just throughout the site, but sometimes even the same page. As annoying as they were back then, there is still a time and a place for them. Like many things in life, moderation is the key.
Those early pop ups were annoying not just because of the pop up, but because they would at times fill the whole screen and have bright, blinking lights. Rule number one of web design is that it is all about the user experience – blinking lights and telling people (lyingly) they won somethings is not an enjoyable user experience. Pop ups are OK at times, blinking lights are never OK.
Pop ups need to be used meaningfully and in a way that truly enhances the user experience. Having a pop up on your home page is really not going to enhance things. In fact, just the opposite – you will very likely drive users away. If you are going to have a pop up on a page, I recommend having it on a later page. When that pop up does show up, keep it simple. Just do sometime such as ask the user for their name and email address. If there is more information you want to know about them there are several ways to get that information in a much more useful and meaningful way in the future.
Be sure to make it easy for users to get out of the pop up if they choose to. Make the close button clear and obvious. Many users will also hit the escape key to close a pop up so be sure that functionality is enabled.
Also, be sure to have a tracking method in place so that the same user doesn’t see the same pop up on every page they visit, especially if they have already giving you their information (or whatever you were asking for).
Pop ups were poorly and over used in the early web. They can still be used today, just make sure they are not overly flashy and annoying and can easily be closed if the users wants to. Remember, at the end of the day, it is all about the user experience.