A new, exciting year in design has just begun with countless challenges awaiting the design community. According to many, 2016 will be the year user experience takes command — the once esoteric term that has recently become vaguely fashionable on anyone’s bio, CV or job title. The user experience of a website is becoming a focal point for every serious design studio, commercial business or digital venture. And rightly so. More informed user research and user architecture are enabling ever more delightful web experiences.
If it is so that user experience is currently at the forefront of design thinking and practice, why is it that users surfing the web have to systematically battle with an army of digital persecutions, namely modal windows automatically popping up prompting users to sign up for yet another newsletter?
Automatic pop-up modal windows are a cancer for the user experience. This swarm of vicious digital demons, often triggered by a page load event handler or a scroll event handler, disintegrate the user experience of a website. This is for a number of reasons:
As you start noticing this user experience plague you will find it everywhere.Corporate websites, magazine website, tech websites,NGO websites,travel websites, design websites, fashion websites, open-source websites, inspiration websites (absolute champion), learning platforms, personal websites and, believe it or not, user experience dedicated websites. Don’t get me wrong, I greatly esteem some of the above companies from a design and user experience stance, but including a pop-up window makes me doubtful.
On the other hand, truly outstanding digital ventures with top class UX understand the pernicious nature of automatic pop-ups and avoid using them altogether. Examples like Treehouse, Slack and Apple provide pop-up-free heavens.
This overused design feature is an outright tyranny on the user, adding to the abyss of digital frustration and anxiety our hyper-connected society has to suffer. This approach should either end today or at least we, the design community, should stop chattering about 2016 being the golden age of user experience.
I understand that often the decision to implement an automatic pop-up window might come as a result of pressure from clients and marketers concerned with numbers of subscribers or the company’s social reach. However, it is the duty of every designer that advocates a satisfying and enjoyable user experience to persuade the client away from this form of visual cognitive glitch. We owe it to our users as much as to our clients. Mortifying users with the insistent use of annoying pop-ups will eventually put a website and, consequentially, the business in a bad light.
Automatic pop-ups feel like the wrong solution to a common problem that has become mainstream out of the design community’s complacency over a mediocre approach. Whether this is out of laziness or an alleged higher conversion rate, it is not acceptable. What about trying to figure out alternative visual strategies or methods to increase subscription rates or conversions rather than using design as a form of technological imposition?
Hopefully, 2016 will be the year of user experience and will result in a more sober use of automatic pop-ups from the design community.
You can tweet me your view or comment on the above thoughts.
Mattia (Proofread by Max Jeffrey)