View Full Version : The ethics of pop-ups
04-12-2003, 08:13 AM
For a long time I have wondered about when a pop-up, or just a link opening in a new window, is necessary. Currently on my site (http://www.mikesadventures.net) I have a few pop-ups. These pop-ups are mainly just new windows being opened, no size restrictions or anything like that. I only do this when I am going to be opening a page that will not have a link directly back to my page. For instance, when I have a link to the w3 validator, I open it in a new window.
As a former AOL user (oh the shame...), I have come to hate pop-ups. See, when you have a window maximized, and a new window opens, your maxed window is changed to the default size and the pop-up (also default sized) is opened right on top. This means that your browsing experience is rudely interrupted and you don't even know what happened because the windows cover each other up.
I also have used pop-ups to open a specifically sized window. The only time I do this is if I am opening a page that has limited content on it and would make opening a whole page back in the normal window pointless. I find myself doing this mainly in my "portfolio" section. This way users can open the pop-up, look at the art, close the window, and be right back in the portfolio. Does the ease of use make up for the pop-up?
When are pop-ups necessary? Are they ever necessary? Are they really as inaccessible as I have heard? Oh the questions that puzzle my mind...:confused:
04-12-2003, 10:21 AM
I hate popups
PS: When using a strict document type, it keeps you from using a new window in say a link. I think because not every type of device capable of viewing your site can open a new window.
I dont completely hate popups, if there used strictly for the actual website content (related), its cool.
04-12-2003, 08:06 PM
I'd say, don't open a new window unless there's a real legitimate need. When you do open a window, it must always be full-decoration - don't size or position or attempt to control its toolbars etc. And always allow for the fact that it may not work - for the reasons cg9com said, or because browsers block them.
Offsite links, imo, are not legitimate. The argument that it benefits users to know when they're leaving one site and going to another is weak in my mind - it doesn't benefit users, it only benefits site owners.
I can only think of one legitimate case offhand, and that's PDF document - because they're not web pages and require the embedding of another application, so maybe it's better to open a new window with them.
And there are exceptions too - http://www.leifcodices.info/ is a fair exception I think, because it's an art piece that would be fundamentally different without window manipulation. But even told - authors must make it clear what's going to happen; the web is still growing, will always have "newbies", and so there will always be people who are confused and disorientated by new windows - new windows don't have your history in them.
As much as I'd live just to stand up and say "no window control - a webpage is a document, not a window", I think the debate is far from over - while it's true that XHTML doesn't have 'target', XLINK has semantics for opening new windows (or rather, new processes, which may or not be windows); as we start to see more hypermedia applications on the web, we may find that window and frame control becomes more, rather than less pertinent an issue. Perhaps what we need is a new modality - something like Vladdy's Multiple Document Interface based on floating <object>s
04-12-2003, 08:28 PM
The ONLY time I could not solve the task without a popup window was my DOM Tree viewer (http://www.vladdy.net/webdesign/dom_treeviewer.html) (the reason is obvious).
Anything that a regular web page does can and should be done within the confines of the window space the user allocated to it (which I demonstrated with the demo brosercake referred to).
04-12-2003, 08:31 PM
Originally posted by Vladdy
(which I demonstrated with the demo brosercake referred to).
Can you post a link ... I forget where it was ...
04-12-2003, 08:47 PM
04-14-2003, 08:05 PM
I've used a popup in exactly one application (Intranet) where the "help" screens are in a popup. I used a popup instead of some other mechanism simply because I wanted the users to be able to switch between the help and the calling window easily and without disturbing the calling window.
I think this is the kind of use that validates the ability to create popups but it's like so many other things on the web. Those people who live under rocks and in other dark places on the earth have co-opted a good thing and used it for ignoble purposes (pop up advertisements). I even got asked today by a "stealth" window if it was ok to install software from Gator (of course it was not ok). In case anyone asks, a stealth window (IMO) is one which refuses to open or restore from the taskbar but instead performs tricks to remain out of view.
04-14-2003, 09:12 PM
The one good use of popups I've seen is on the Lands' End catalog website. When you activate the size chart link, the chart opens in a new window -- quite convenient since you don't have to try to backtrack to the item you're interested in.
04-14-2003, 09:49 PM
I would go along with what catman says. I use a link that opens a new window for brief tasks where I dont want to redirect a user to another page then make them redirect back. The size of the window depends on what task they are doing. I usually never go full size it just depends on what is needed in the window. Pop up windows really have no use unless you are trying to annoy a user. People are now conditioned to close them as fast as they can because of they years of annoying popup ads. So I would never use pop-ups but I would use a link that opens a new window when it helps the flow of an web application.
04-15-2003, 11:35 AM
/me building a website with the idea that adverts and popups will never be shown... (I hate popups and ads, period.