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Popup windows, or "pop-up" windows, are content windows that appear above the viewed content.


Pop-ups are used when you want to highlight an important content section of the page. The most common example is a newsletter signup, as it allows you to capture the visitor's email address, enabling you to contact them with updates and benefits. This way, you aim to capture visitors, especially those who leave the site without making a purchase or taking another action that would allow you to reconnect with them.

Pop-ups also have a negative reputation, as they are often used for advertising on pages with unwanted content, which can negatively affect the user experience. They can appear while reading content that likely attracted the visitor, making their display over the content quite disruptive. The close button for pop-ups can sometimes be hidden, forcing the user to take action, such as providing their email address or clicking a link.

In addition to traditional pop-ups that display the entire content upon visiting the page, there are other types of pop-ups that I will explain in the following sections.

Click-triggered Pop-ups

Pop-ups that open upon clicking are the least intrusive of all pop-ups because they appear precisely when the user initiates a specific action, without interrupting their browsing. They can be particularly useful when you don't want the visitor to leave the page. For instance, if you are promoting a free e-book, a visitor can open a pop-up window with a form for downloading the book by clicking on the "click to download the free e-book" action. After completing the form, they can continue browsing the page.

Time-triggered Pop-ups

Time-triggered windows are used when you don't want to interrupt the visitor's browsing but still want to tie the appearance of the pop-up window to the time spent on the page or the number of pages viewed. In this way, you haven't prevented the visitor from getting to know the page's content with their first visit, potentially increasing the likelihood that they will sign up for newsletters, especially if the content they've viewed has convinced them.  In my opinion, pop-ups can be problematic because they appear too quickly. When we visit a website, the newsletter signup form may appear before we've had a chance to review the website's content.

Sidebar Pop-ups

Due to the increasing size of computer screens, there is often unused space along the sides of individual web pages, which is ideal for displaying occasional promotions or benefits. Such sidebar pop-ups do not negatively impact the user experience since users can easily ignore the ad, as it typically does not cover the main content. The main content is usually limited in width so that users can read the text without interruption. You can dedicate the unused space alongside the content to sidebar pop-ups. Sidebar promotions are often fixed in place and always visible, making them less likely for visitors to miss.

Exit-intent Pop-ups

Exit-intent windows are an excellent way to retain a customer on a website and offer special benefits to keep them on the site. They are also used when a visitor adds an item to their cart but does not complete the purchase. In such cases, exit-intent pop-ups are typically used to display benefits like a free shipping coupon, a gift with purchase, and more.

Top Bar Pop-ups

Top bar pop-ups are less intrusive than traditional overlay windows because they appear within the content rather than covering it, simply displaying it lower on the page. In cases where they do appear over the content, they usually only cover a portion of the page, allowing users to continue browsing without complete obstruction.

Pop-under Windows

Pop-under windows function somewhat differently from traditional pop-ups. Upon a specific action, a new browser window opens automatically with a special offer that you can see when you close the main window or when you want to see what appeared on its own. You may have encountered pop-under windows when visiting certain websites, such as those displaying content of an explicit nature or attempting to sell certain products. These are known as pop-under windows and can be very annoying. Due to the poor user experience associated with this type of window, many visitors use additional software to block the opening of such windows. 

Because of the poor user experience associated with these types of windows, sites that use them are often banned (e.g., Google Adsense) and ranked lower in certain search engines.

Search Engines and Pop-up Windows on Mobile Devices

Most of us primarily use our mobile phones or tablets for web browsing. Google, the American tech giant, recognizes this trend and has, for some time now, been prioritizing websites that are fully mobile-responsive. Not too long ago, due to good user experience, Google decided to penalize all mobile websites that excessively use pop-up windows

Google believes that pop-up windows on mobile devices are the most disruptive element, as they typically cover the primary content of the website. This is evident in the higher bounce rate (high exit rate from a website) associated with them. When users are dissatisfied with a pop-up, they often close the site and return to Google to continue searching for higher-quality content. The most popular search engine will remember their behavior. Among other things, Google also monitors the time spent on a site to predict whether users are satisfied with the content. 

Consequently, Google will penalize all websites that use pop-up windows to display irrelevant or unwanted content and full-screen overlays that hinder the user experience on mobile devices.

However, don't worry, not all pop-up windows are bad. You can still use them for:

  • Notifying users about the use of cookies on your website, 

  • Notifying users of age restrictions for those who can use your services, and

  • Content-specific pop-ups.

If you use pop-up or overlay windows on your website in the manner described above, or if a significant portion of your traffic is based on actions and offers displayed in the form of pop-up windows, ensure they are properly designed so as not to negatively impact your website's search engine ranking.

Stop browsing. Start selling. Contact me now at anze@degriz.net.

My name is Anže, and I am a Magento certified expert in solutions and a creator of multiple award-winning online stores.

I am the architect behind all Degriz projects. You will surely come across me if we collaborate. Even though the phone keeps ringing, you can always tap me on the shoulder if you need advice regarding online stores and their functioning.

I specialize in building custom online stores and I am a master of unique techniques to enhance conversion on your website.

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