I was checking out the “learning management system” platform called Teachable. I found my way to their plan pricing page. After being there for a bit and looking over the prices, THIS happened when I scrolled back up:
In modern web design parlance, this obnoxiously annoying crap is called a “lightbox.” The more generic name for a user interface element that functions this way is a “modal window” or “modal popup.” This renders the main functions of the site unusable until the modal window is closed…and THERE’S MY PROBLEM WITH IT.
Modal popups, modal windows, or “lightboxes” are the most frustrating thing imaginable on a website. Some deluded designers and marketing weasels think that modal popups are a great way to “maximize conversions” (marketing code for “some idiot signed up for our useless email list! Hooray!”) but the reality is that if the Internet was a piece of skin, modal popups are an inflamed skin tag that wasn’t there yesterday and that we want so desperately to chop off with a rusty utility knife and never have it come back.
Let’s get down to the business end of this problem. If someone accidentally types (or is deceptively coerced into typing) their email into your greedy marketing lightbox, they’re not actually interested in your emails and will resent the fact that they are now on yet another spam factory mailing list they’ll never read. They won’t visit you again. They will flag your email as spam. They will hate you forever for being yet another giant dick in a sea of dicks made of spam. What about people who might be interested in your stuff? Well, there’s already a thing that such people can use to make sure they can come back…it’s called a “bookmark.” You know, that technology from the 1990s that lets someone return to your website quickly? Yes, it’s a real thing and people still use them!
For everyone who visits your site and who might do the thing that makes you a little money for your troubles, that clever marketing lightbox just rendered your entire site unusable to whore out for email addresses. Do you know what normal people do when a website becomes unusable due to a random popup that blacks it out?
We leave. We never return.
If you use a modal popup of any sort on your website and it’s not for very specific purposes that fit with your site UI in a critical way from a usability standpoint, you’re running your customers off. We hate you and we will not come back for as long as we can remember that you’re yet another one of the assholes that thinks interrupting our site experience to beg for our email addresses is the way to win our trust and establish a customer relationship.
Think about it this way: what do you do when the high-pressure sales pitch douchebags show up at your door and try to sell you something you don’t necessarily want in the first place? That’s right…you tell them to go away.
You just gave us a reason to avoid you.
We’re happy to oblige.
Get rid of the lightbox popups on your website or we’ll be happy to see you die.
Yes, I’m pissed off and I hope the people who put this crap on websites go unemployed for the next five years. For a more level-headed discussion about the problem with the lightbox popup, check this article out.