Have you mistakenly made your own website super annoying to anybody who visits it?
The other day, I saw this screenshot of a tweet:
Actually, I think he forgot a few. Like…
- Decline the optin for browser notifications
- Decline the request to use your current location
- Solve a recaptcha just to visit the damn site, so you end up checking off crosswalks or fire hydrants.
It has gotten really ridiculous out there.
Is your site doing any of this stuff to people? And even more importantly, does it work? Is it just a necessary evil?
The Battle For Attention
We all know that attention is a scarce commodity these days. Everybody wants your attention and you’ve got a lot less of it to give.
Site owners want your attention. Your attention is their bread and butter. It is literally how they pay the bills. And they do all they can to get that attention.
So, people use popups to try to get the email opt-in. Because they think it won’t get any attention unless it pops up in your face. And honestly, they’re probably right.
But, on top of the attention-getting stuff (which often conflict because site owners try to get attention for more than one thing at a time), we’ve also got the various legal and security issues.
People are putting highly annoying cookie notices on their sites.. usually out of legal fear after the GDPR and cookie laws in the EU.
People put up firewall blocks to try to ward off security issues. For instance, lot of sites run their DNS through Cloudflare, causing their users to periodically solve recaptcha merely to visit the site.
My opinion is this…
When everybody seems to want to go one direction, my instinct is to look at the other direction. For instance, when I saw so many companies automating phone calls and then I saw online companies doing the same thing using messenger bots, my instinct was exactly the opposite. Be as human and REAL as you can.
The other day, I saw an AppSumo offer for deepfake videos from a company called DeepWord. We’ve already seen copywriting AI to “write” articles for people. I’m telling you… all this does is cheapen all that stuff and increase the demand for real, authentic stuff.
Treating People Like… People
We’re living in a world where people want authenticity. Real human beings.
And I think there’s a similar vibe when it comes to all these highly distracting habits of so many websites.
So, my instinct is this…
- Don’t use popup opt-ins unless you absolutely need to. And if you do, be respectful about it. Don’t show it to people right when they get there and haven’t even had a chance to look at anything yet. Don’t cover up all the content, either. Exempt mobile devices because you know how annoying popups are on mobile. Basically, don’t make your site do what you personally find so annoying on others.
- Make it easy for people to contact you for help. But, it doesn’t mean you need to have some widget popping up asking them to. It is the equivalent of a salesman constantly bothering you in the store when you’re just looking at things. It’s annoying.
- Don’t offer browser notifications, causing people to have to ignore. Hardly anybody wants them anyway. Let’s be real about it.
- Don’t use auto-play videos that use sound. With Presto Player, it is possible to do muted auto-play and I think that’s totally fine. But, doing it with sound on is purely for the purpose of smacking them for attention. Why do that?
- Don’t use cookie notices unless you absolutely feel you have to. There are a lot of site owners playing copycat and doing that whether they need to or not. If you’re going to do a cookie agreement notice, make it such that it doesn’t completely hijack the user experience.
If you feel you’re going to lose out on opt-ins by not using annoying popups, I would beg to differ. Most people react to popups with annoyance and then finding the “X” to close it. You know that because that’s what YOU do, right? The thing is…
What people DO pay attention to on a blog…. is the actual blog. People look at the content.
So, putting contextual opt-in invitations right into your blog content is MUCH more likely to get noticed than a popup. Things like content upgrades can work extremely well. And they are not annoying, but instead welcome because they are directly to the reason they’re on your post to begin with.
Practice The Golden Rule
In the end, remember the golden rule should apply to websites, too.
Treat others like you yourself want to be treated.
If you find yourself annoyed at all the annoying distractions on websites, why would you do it to visitors of your own site?
Especially when, in many cases, it isn’t necessary and doesn’t even work.