Why I can’t stand WordPress Popup Plugins


Let's start with a thought experiment

When was the last time you were around families you didn't know? I ask because it's different than with families you do know. With families you know, you make all sorts of affordances. But not with strangers.

So think back to the last time you were around families – as you and the other adults were talking. Now, were there little kids around? They have to be for this to work. So if they weren't, then think about the last time they were. Ready? Good. So you have that moment in your mind.

What bothered you the most? The constant interrupting? The clear sense the children were running that family? Or your spouses continual effort to keep you from saying something honest (that may have also been rude)?

For me, it's all of the above.

And that's why I hate those stupid WordPress popup plugins that shove stuff in my face when I arrive.

I don't care if it works

Oh I know that they work. I know some people see great list growth because of them. But I hate them. And by the way, just because something works doesn't mean we should do it, right? (you know I could write a long list of things here to prove my point, right…but let's skip it)

So for just a second, watch these 33 seconds for a second…


How was it? Because as annoying as that sound is, that's how annoyed I get when I arrive at your site and your crazy popup appears.

The 5 reasons I can't stand WordPress Popup Plugins

Let me start by saying that I've purchased and tried several of the most well known popup plugins for WordPress. So I'm not just coming at this from the end user's experience (though that does drive a lot of my observations).

When they started slowing my site down, I started looking at various options and eventually (as you can see) stopped using them altogether.

So if you're using a WordPress popup plugin, here's what I'd like to share with you….

1. Your site sucks on my mobile phone

I know that popup looked cool on your site. But did you check it out on a mobile phone? Because if you didn't, then you really missed out. Sure, it's easy to click the “X” on a 27 inch monitor. Try it on a 3 or 4 inch screen. Not nearly as easy. I have to zoom out, scroll around, find it, and then click it. At that point I hate your site already. Time to move on.

2. I don't know you. How can I decide?

Your offer is, I'm sure, awesome. And I bet it would bring me tons of value. But how would I know. I know some popups will allow you to wait until I've spent 4 or more minutes on your site, or after I've clicked on 3 or more posts in a category. But people never seem to use those intelligent options.

Instead, two seconds after arriving on your site, POW! the popup appears. I haven't read enough to know if you'll be adding tons of value. So I'm just not ready to decide. No matter how great the offer.

3. Are you really that pushy in real life?

You're probably great. I mean it. Most people I meet are great – if I can find out what makes them great. About the only people I can't find something to like are people who don't give me a chance because they're pushing me away before I get to know them. That's what your immediate popup in my face does – it says, “please go away. leave right now. don't bother hanging out.”

4. Most are coded poorly!

I'm a big fan of high performers and high performing code. So you can imagine my surprise as I started testing out some of these solutions that were meant to be simple and they turned out to be resource hogs, poorly coded, without hooks or ways to integrate them into the rest of what I was trying to do here.

I won't go long here but let me just say that I haven't found one yet that performs brilliantly, works well in highly cached environments, has clean code, is extensible, and has well-commented code. Not one.

5. I want something better & smarter…

Until I find the perfect solution, I keep using the code that MailChimp offers me. But if you're a developer and you want to know what I want, here it is…

I want a hosted solution where most of the processing is done off my server. I want it controlled by the plugin interface that I have on my back-end that integrates to your hosted service. I want a solution that let's me evaluate my traffic and only show targeted popups to different “tagged” audiences. I'd love a quick way to create those tags (visited w category more than x times in y days for more than z seconds).

And I'd love it to work with mobile devices.

Hey – there's a lot of time until Christmas. If you get started…I bet you could pull it off.