Part of my post the other day, What should WSJ.com do?, included a little snippet about advertisements potentially distracting from the readability of the Wall St. Journal online.
I understand that companies need to make money, but it never ceases to amaze me how prominently some major sites feature advertisements within their pages. We use to have the "banner ad", which we all learned to ignore, so it makes sense that ads drifted down into the content - attempting to grab our attention as we're trying to focus on the content of the page.
The worst offense, however, is that some sites are still sing popup ads - those pesky small new browser windows that open up in front of the page you're trying to look at - even though almost any Usability expert you speak to would tell you how bad they are.
Modern browsers now have popup blockers, which automatically stop the popup ads from appearing. When the browser blocks a popup, the browser reveals a small banner at the top of the content of the page, offering you some options (in case you want to view the popup). The browsers use a subtle animation to reveal the popup blocker, ensuring that you see that some action was taken on your behalf and to undo the action if you so choose.
The subtle animation that browsers use is an example of great design - IMHO - the details (controls) reveal themselves only when appropriate, and, even though the animation is distracting, it accomplishes the goal in that few people will miss it.
My question is, why do sites still use popup ads?
Here are two major sites, CNN and The Weather Channel, respectively, with the popup blocker control revealed:
There are two crappy things about this:
1.) The popup blocker being revealed is distracting
2.) I have to take an action to get rid of it (well, I don't have to get rid of it, but having it in the page pushes content down, requiring more scrolling).
Knowing that most people have popup blockers, and that the both popups and blockers are distracting, why do sites still use popups??