Thursday, August 27, 2009

Not getting the whole “user in control” thing

I just had an interesting loop experience on a popular site.
  1. The banner ad automatically popped up covering some of the content. Ok, this is annoying and obviously not respecting the site visitor, but it happens and I expect it will either a) close itself in a few seconds, or b) close when I find and click the Close link.
  2. I find the Close link and click it.
  3. The ad closes. But wait – it pops up again. What?
  4. So I repeat step 2. And it happens again: it seems to close and then open right back. What is going on?
As it turns out, a clever combination of marketers and programmers have put a rollover action in the same spot as the Close link, so unless I move the mouse really quickly, the rollover action triggers the pop-up again. Clever eh?

But what is the real effect? I spent 10 seconds interacting with a company I didn’t want to pay attention to in the first place. Do you suppose I’m inclined to think better of them now that I have had to defeat their ad in order to read what I originally wanted?

Me either.

To be fair, maybe this was unintentional. Maybe this little endless loop was an accident. But wouldn’t that be even worse? That would imply the advertiser didn’t test their banner ad. Hmm, old advertising habits die hard. Good design puts users in control.

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