Do you hate this as much as I do? There is nothing worse than clicking on a Google listing (even worse, an AdSense listing) and getting a piece of dancing baloney flying in my face while I’m still trying to get my bearings and see where I am.
I'm talking about those little information screens (very often found on sites that are trying to sell you something) that pop up, fly over, zoom around, and generally land right in front of what I'm trying to read. It's like the cat when you're trying to read the newspaper, only not endearing.
The site's owners did whatever work they needed to do to get a decent Google listing. They designed and delivered a message that created a desired action--I clicked through. And then in less than a second, that result was squandered and I’m frantically reaching for the back button.
What’s your ROI (Return on Irritation)?
If you’re going to use dynamic popups and pop-overs, you have to test and re-test. Any time you piss people off this badly, you need to know exactly what you’re getting in return.
You can’t just test the immediate result--the number of people who do whatever the popup asked them to do. You also need to analyze that result against the long-term value of customers who hate rude interruptions--the ones you lost a half second into their session.
If popups or pop-overs truly seem to be working for you, think about how you can add them where your user is going to want more information. Ideally you'll give users a few moments to get acquainted and verify that they’re in the right spot. Then, when they're at least somewhat comfortable, anticipate where they're going to benefit from an additional message--more information, an additional offer, another resource, whatever.
There’s a reason users rush to block these irritating technological gnats. Popups and pop-overs are almost always permission-busters, as is forced audio or video. They take too much for granted. They deliver something that hasn't been asked for.
These attention-grabbing techniques increase your customers’ feeling of risk, just at the point when you want to reduce it. They make your site feel unfriendly and rude at best, potentially dangerous at worst.
Finally, add some usability testing to your process. Get a few users in front of a video camera, and watch their reactions when this stuff starts flying around the screen. What you see may be instructive.