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Nobody wants to create bad design, and yet it happens all the time. And while the cause of bad design varies, the final result is the same—bad user experience.

Bad user experience frustrates users and often leads to abandoning the product. In this article, I’ll focus on one particular aspect of bad design—using UI techniques that lead to bad UX.

1. Pop-Ups

If I ask you to name the single most irritating thing on the web, the odds are that you’ll reply, “Pop-ups.” According to the NN Group pop-ups are the most hated web experience ever.
We all know that feeling. You visit a new website, the content on the page seems to be interesting. You begin to read it and just when you are halfway through the text, you are suddenly interrupted by a huge overlay asking you to either subscribe to a newsletter or offer you something. In most cases, your immediate reaction will be either to close the overlay or to close the entire page, the overlay along with it.

An overlay used on the Esquire website.
It’s obvious why so many sites use this technique: Advertisers pay them to. However, the pop-up technique is too disruptive, and it has a huge negative effect on visitors. Every time you show a pop-up you ask users to stop doing what they want to do (what’s important for them) and focus their attention on what you want them to do (what’s important to you). It’s not surprising that such behavior often increases bounce rate.

It’s possible to use pop-ups without annoying your visitors. Just follow a simple rule—trigger a pop-up at the right time. For example, it’s much better to allow users to finish the current activity (e.g., reach the end of the page) before showing a pop-up. Once users have had a little more time to learn about you (your brand and your offerings), the chance that they will be willing to do what you want them to do increases.

Another important component is the actual message you have in your pop-up. You need to write a great copy. The copy shouldn’t be insulting, tricking, or confusing. Waitbutwhy go even further and incorporate humor in their text:

When visitors read the copy from Waitbutwhy, it makes them smile.

It’s worth saying that there are many less-obtrusive tools such as slide-in bars that don’t cover the whole page and produce similar results in terms of conversion.