Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

This is a call to arms: Shitty Popups must die.

Marketers: increasing conversions and migraines since 1995

I’m a female creative tech worker who has been deeply embroiled in the industry since Geocities was a thing. It’s safe to say I know what I’m talking about when it comes to a few key areas:

Like marketing, making content, graphic design. Things like that. Normal stuff.

Here’s my A++++ content, for reference.

I have a pretty good memory, too. I remember how popups used to be.

I remember what happened last time we did this specific dance with advertising space on websites.

You know, popups: the haptic bastard child of the Time Warp and Cotton Eye Joe flapping together to cover your entire screen like a donkey-kick in the eye sockets.

Do you remember how popups used to be?

Source. Just because your popups are prettier, doesn’t mean they aren’t a visual assault.

If not, you’ve either blocked it out of your memory like a wild night in Vegas, or you were too young to know not to gum your parent’s ethernet cables to death.

Everyone else who used a home computer between 1995–2005 remembers the war that started and seemingly never stopped.

The war for our money, time, and attention with cascading popup advertisements plastered on the screen like the luke-warm offerings of an off-brand convenience store.

It has come again, my brothers, sisters, and others…

The Pop-up-pocalypse

Ew, web notifications. Barf.

I’m not disputing that pop-ups / popups / popdawoops work for some companies. Hell, I’ve used them before — responsibly — for my clients.

I’m not disputing that they are a boon for e-commerce stores — they absolutely are.

What I’m disputing is the necessity to plaster them on every single page of the internet and block people from accessing your content.

Stop pop-blocking me, bro.

Here’s the entire reason for this article:

I was no more than 1 minute deep into reading this article about popups by Sumo — industry leader in marketing solutions and POPUP plugins — when low and behold, a shitty pop-up.

All I was trying to do was move a tab in Chrome. I understand that popups aren’t smart enough to know if you’re moving tabs, but

Sumo — if you have such a large stake in the game (your product) of course you’re going to craft a study on why it still works.

…if I’m in the middle of reading an article about popups that describes not shoving exit-popups onto people, then I get an exit popup, I’m going to call bullshit on the entire thing.

Popups — as many marketers and companies use them — are dead.


Popups are dead because you’re blocking content people want to read. It’s as simple as that.

Note the incessant requirement I ban-hammer my adblocker. This is Forbes.

The only reason people keep reading Forbes online is, well, because it’s Forbes.

Blocking content and preventing people from reading it with an obnoxious assault on the senses wouldn’t fly on any lesser-known website. It wouldn’t.

Don’t lie and say it would:

FACT: I clicked away from this website faster than a 19 year old, still living with their parents, browsing no-no websites in the living room.

So what can I do about crappy popups?

You may ask, searching for an answer from me instead of me ranting all over like a rabid squirrel, like I normally do.

I’ll tell you exactly what you need to do:

Focus on UX and beautiful design, and you can’t go wrong with your popups. Seriously.

UX Professionals are in charge of the behavioral flow of users across a website or app. UI Professionals are in charge of the design of the app or website.

Newsflash to everyone (maybe): Most UI / UX professionals actually do not make the popups.

I repeat: Most UX / UI Professionals do not make the popups.

Marketers do. And they need to team up with UX and UI, and possibly copywriters too…

Because this:

Is terribly intrusive and has far too much information.

While this:

And this:

Are both very pleasing and not at all disrupting.

Notice how both popups above have just enough information to get you interested, they’re easy to read, not annoying, and beautifully designed?

That’s the trick.

User Experience doesn’t just stop because Marketers want to slam popups all over your blog to increase conversions.

Boarding up your content behind a popup isn’t the best way to show you’re an industry leader, drive traffic, or retain readers.

But if you have to employ popups, pay special attention to UX and UI.

And never create anything as gaudy as this, unless you’re ironic hipster trash:

Which I am:

Special thanks to Renato P. dos Santos for his continued support!

Kira Leigh is a writer, gamer, digital creative, and small business owner.
Catch her here and send her a line if you want to work together.

If you love her content, please consider donating to her Patreon so she can make her career alllll about content!

Or join her on Discord like the giant nerd you are: windows95toasteroven#3745