Web Jive - The Buzz on Web Development

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pop-up Banner Ads – Do’s & Don’ts

The web is filled with annoyances and right at the top of list stands the infamous pop-up banner ad. Just recently I received a request from a client who wanted a banner ad on their website so they could display a “special offer” for their customers. To the client, this seemed like a brilliant idea… There are many uses for the pop-up, but I have yet to find any blogs that define best practices. Based on my own experiences, I’ve compiled my own ethical standards for using the pop-up. Nowadays, the web is crawling with spyware, adware, and malicious material, which has led to a highly skeptical audience of web users. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve come across whose pc’s are loaded with virus’s and malicious advertising material. These people don’t even want to deal with their own computers because it’s so saturated with junk. A lot of this junk contains malicious advertising software that will constantly throw pop-ups on their screen until they are blue in the face. It seems like the only solution is to give-in and buy the TV being advertised. What's more frustrating is that the sucess rate for pop-up banner ads is between 2-5%, which isn't bad. The tradeoff is that you'll see the exit rates for the page go up. Trust me, I can assure that you’ll see an increase. Bottom line here is that the users are crying for help and the browsers (IE, Firefox, Opera) are beginning to answer. Today, every browser is coming with a built-in pop-up blocker. Based on usage statistics, that means that 70-80% of users are currently using browsers with built-in pop-up blockers. With that said, in order to have a pop-up achieve its true potential, you are going to need to stop tricking your users and simply tell them that they should have pop-ups enabled. The absolute worst way of displaying pop-ups is on entry pages. Remember, you have only 10-20 seconds to prove to that user that they should stay at your website. Why even take that risk? For me, when I hear the “click” of the pop-up blocker on an entry page of a website, I immediately leave. Seriously people, what does that say about the rest of your website? Users (as a whole) have developed a negative connotation of pop-up’s, which means you need to be ethical and smart if you choose to use them and if you want to keep the user’s trust. If you have an unsure feeling about a pop-up then you probably shouldn’t use it. Then ask yourself, do you want to have to deal with this when you search the web? Don't forget that you have an alternative solution to use a link with a target=_blank, which will open to a new window. It’s as simply as that. Do - Open a link to a new window - it won't get blocked example - Make the user aware that you will be using a pop-up! - When the user clicks a link. - 2nd Tier (and beyond) web pages on your website. - Display pop-ups with a purpose: - PDF, word/excel docs - Help windows - Other files - Displaying pictures. - Surveys (sometimes) - Addition forms that require additional space. Don't - Use (Avoid for Body Onload) window.open(theURL,winName,features); - Use pop-up’s on entry pages! - Use more than one pop-up at a time. - Display cheesy ads. A majority of users frown upon this. - Display random sign-ups for newsletters. Although I love reading Sitepoint articles, some authors are notorious for doing this. Place the sign-up in the page, you'll get a better response anyway. Useful Articles/Resources - Create Dynamic Pop-ups in XHTML 1.0 Strict Pages by Michael Rainey - Practical Web Design - Pop-ups: Malign or Maligned? by Mike Tuck - Pop-up Blocking Stats by Matt Mickiewicz - To Pop, or Not to Pop by Chris Beasley - Accessible Popup Links by Caio Chassot Stop tha' Pop!


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