Google Studies the Obvious: People Hate Interstitial Popups

One of the (many) things that piss me off is the growing plague of modal popups (also called interstitials) that seemingly every site deploys these days. These are the popups that dim the screen and take over the web page you just loaded demanding that you “Like us on Facebook!” or “Join Our Email List!” To proceed, you have to find and click on the (often tiny, obscure) X or dismiss button (which surprisingly is never labelled “F**k Off”, which is exactly what I utter when that happens) just to even see what’s on the site.

My reaction when I see this is immediate: I hit the back button. If you’re near-sighted enough ask me to like your site or give you my email address before you give me a chance to look at it for half a second, I can safely assume you too stupid to actually present content I want to see. I guess, in a way, it does me a service. It’s a nice filter. I won’t waste time on that stupid site. But I really get annoyed being slapped in the face again and again by aggressive levels of stupid.

I’ve often wondered if anyone else is pissed off by this. I mean, this form of stupid is pretty rampant on the Internet. It’s not just small blogs that are doing it. For example, about a year ago I was hit with not one but two popups on TrueValue Hardware site: once for the join our email list, and immediately after for the ever-present Foresee “please give us free research because we’re not sure why our site sucks” survey. (Hint: it’s the popups).

What? Don't you want my Social Security Number as well? Then you obviously don't like me.

What? Don’t you want my Social Security Number as well? Then you obviously don’t like me.


I said "OK" to this popup, just so I could yell at them for stupid freaking popups. That led me to a survey that had something like 60 questions on it. Most of them were fishing for compliments, on the order of "Which do you  you like most A) TrueValue Hardware B) Kicking your Grandma C) Torturing puppies.

I said “Yes” to this popup, just so I could yell at them for having stupid freaking popups. Their “brief” survey was something like 60 questions long. Most of them were obviously crafted by the marketing team fishing for compliments, on the order of “Which do you you like most A) TrueValue Hardware’s website B) Kicking your Grandma C) Torturing puppies. Sorry, Grandma.


In the real world, do you think it would be a good customer experience to post two employees by the front door whose job it is to spring out one after another to block a customer’s entry to the store until they either filled in a form on a clipboard or shoved them out of the way? No? Then why do it on your online store?

The popup idiocy also extends to mobile. Many sites you browse on your smartphone’s browser will stop you in your tracks, demanding that you “get our app!” This is pretty much boldly declaring themselves to be self-centered idiots. Let me get this straight: I just showed up at your site. I probably have no idea who you are or if you have anything of interest to me. But up front you want to me to download and install your app which may or may not invade my privacy, suck up my data allowance, and/or drain my battery? At the very least it will clutter up the limited space on my phone. And you expect me to do this instead simply browsing your site with the browser that’s already on my phone? Yeah… right.

At least, it appears I’m not alone in my hate of mobile popups. Google just published a blog with their study of how people reacted to an interstitial for Google+ on mobiles. The result? 69% of the people who saw the it just said “screw this” and either hit the back button or closed the browser tab. I feel validated! And this result is, mind you, for something that Google puts out. You know who Google is. I wonder what percent of people who see an interstitial popup from random sites just hit the back button.

Hopefully, this is the start of a trend. As companies and sites start to notice that people would rather leave than deal with an up front, desperate plea for love and validation. There are so many other ways to make it easy for people to sign up for your email list, like you on Facebook, or whatever validation keeps you happy at night. Just let the interstitial go the way of the popup window on the 1990’s.

(via TechCrunch)

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