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Popup windows: an overview of UX’s least favorite UI element

Popup windows: an overview of UX’s least favorite UI element


Popup windows are a controversial topic among users, designers and UXers alike. In a recent guestblog for Usability Geek, Justinmind got down to the nitty gritty of popups, from bounce rates to UX.

Whether you know them as dialog boxes, modal windows or plain old popups, those little windows that appear and interrupt your navigation flow certainly have a controversial reputation among interface designers and users. Marketers and space-restricted UI designers are generally pro popups, but users seem less keen, not to mention UX professionals. Writing in Usability Geek, the Justinmind team decided to canvas some user opinions, do some research and get opinions from our in-house design team. The results are interesting, to say the least.

The rise of the modal pop-up

Starting from the ground up, it’s easy to see why popups remain attractive to designers: as a GUI, it’s a nifty way to provide the user with information that is related to main page content, but not directly. The popup temporarily interrupts workflows very effectively – you need to tell the user something, you popup and do that, they react and then everyone’s happy, in theory. Of course, this functionality has morphed over time: from spam adverts to confirmation calls and subscriber reminders, the popup has myriad functions. For UI designers the pop-up window means “the gift of new-found space”, according to UX Mag, a hot property as screens get smaller and smaller.

So is the modal popup window as convenient and innocuous as it sounds? From a UX perspective, maybe not.

The Popup Positives

First up, let’s clarify why popups can’t be ignored, despite featuring on many ‘most-hated UI element’ lists. Bear in mind, when Justinmind carried out an online survey, ‘Are popups here to stay?’, 21% of respondents defended the popup, against the 23% who gave them a thumbs down and the 56% of fence-sitters. So let’s look at some of the upsides to this divisive UI element.

Read the rest of the article on Usability Geek here!

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Cassandra Naji

About the Author

Cassandra is Marketing Content Editor at Justinmind

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