Return to: GROK Dot Com 2/15/2001

Calling all Lemmings: 
Amazon, the Leader in Pop-Ups??

I know you can't see what Iím doing, but I'm just about to reach for a couple of those Grokcedrin tablets that are so good when I get an out-of-this-world headache. Pop-ups. Ouch. You just love them, right? But can you believe it? Amazon, no less, decided we just had to have them during the past holiday shopping season, and now they are popping up all over the web. Obviously, if Amazon does it, it must be a great idea, right? WRONG!

I thought you guys Ďn gals figured this out a while back. Folks out there don't like pop-ups. At all. Period. Pop-ups irritate the bejeesus out of them. I absolutely HATE it when my browser throws me a pop-up and I have to click out of the pop-up before I can move on. Donít you? Then why would you think your customers would feel differently?

Pop-ups arenít just annoying, theyíre invasive. Also, except for the microscopic attention it takes to click them away, pop-ups are eminently ignorable. Jakob Nielsenís studies have demonstrated, "Users rarely look at logos, mission statements, slogans, or any other elements they consider fluff (in particular, they ignore advertising and anything that looks like an ad)."1 (emphasis all my own!)

Actually, I have to confess they do have a few (a VERY few) useful applications. Cafepress.com <http://www.cafepress.com> uses them effectively to help explain procedures for setting up a store on their site. And there's a nifty classical music dictionary on Naxos.com <http://www.naxos.com> where term definitions appear in pop-ups. Pop-ups in response to Help questions can work. These applications help speed apprehension and download times, and minimize the chance the customer will get lost betwixt and between pages. But thatís about it. If you can do it any other way except pop ups, do. And if you think pop-ups will increase sales or customer loyalty, youíve been watching too much Amazon.

Come on dudes and dudettes; don't be lemmings. If you're going to use pop-ups, have a reeeaaally good reason for it. "Just because Amazon does it" doesn't mean a thing (in fact, letís see how long Amazon gets away with it!). Most of the time the only effect of pop-ups is to tick off your customers. And ticked-off customers click on over to your competitor.

1. "Is Navigation Useful?" Jakob Nielsen. Alertbox, January 9, 2000. <http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000109.html>

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