When Is the Right Time to Show a Popups?


Popups are frequently considered a very irritating way to communicate a message but it can’t be denied that popups do a great job, when used properly.

One of the secrets to proper use is scheduling – i.e. when to display a popup, so that it has a maximum positive effect. Without being an exhaustive source on the topic, here are some quick tips to help you decide when the right time to show a popup is.

With the careful planning and strategy, you can increase the engagement on your blog.

Popups at Startup Are NOT OK

The most frequent approach is to show a popup at startup. Unfortunately, this is also the worst you can do.

Probably the negative emotions of users towards popups largely stem from the fact that popups are shown mainly at startup and this is why users are rightfully annoyed. Of course, this doesn’t mean you must never-ever display popups at startup but all equal this is the worst timing you can think of.

If you are using a primitive tool to display popups, you might have no other options but to show them at startup. However, if you use a WordPress popup plugin, such as Popup Domination or Platinum Popup, then you have many more scheduling options.

These options vary depending on which plugin you are using but almost any good one allows at least to show popups on every Nth page, and/or after the user has spent some time onsite.

Give Users Some Time Before Bombarding Them with a Popup …

The idea of a delayed popup is to wait and see if the user will stay on the page or not. If the user stays on the page for some time, this generally means he or she is interested in the contents, so if you show a popup on a related topic, presumably the user will be more interested.

Show Popups on Time
Give Ads on the Right Time

The key here is to set the seconds of delay correctly (generally 30 secs is best) and to display a relevant message. It might be hard to come with relevant popup messages for each page of your site but if you have a couple of messages and display them on pages that have some relation to it, it is still OK.

… but Don’t Make Them Scroll

One of the intricacies of delayed popups is that if you wait too long, the user might either leave the page, or worse – be engaged in some activity, such as reading the article, you will interrupt. It is also very unpleasant when you have scrolled down a page and a popup appears at the top. In this case users will have to scroll back to the top to close the popup and this is also very, very irritating.

Because of this, a delay of 30 secs is optimal – it shows interest in the page but it is less likely to interrupt a user’s activity or to have them scroll to close the popup.

Consider Exit Popups

Exit popups – i.e. these popups you show the user when he or she is about to leave the page, are a popup alternative many webmasters are unaware about. You can do it without a plugin but it is much easier with a plugin.

Some of the best WordPress popup plugins offer the option to show popups at exit and they also give you some configuration options you don’t have when you use conventional methods. Of course, if misused, exit popups can also be irritating but the advantage is that you are showing them to the user only once – when he or she is about to leave your site.

With popups, timing is very important. If you don’t display a popup at the right time, this simply kills its efficiency.

I hope that the tips in this article will help you to better schedule your popups and to see better results from them.

[box type=”gray”]Ada is the Blogger Relations Manager at WinkPress – one of the best sites about WordPress, its themes, and plugins. The tips on our site will help you to create great WordPress sites. Visit the site to learn more about WordPress popup plugins.[/box]

Image Credit: scottchan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


  1. i don’t like popup it will create a disturbance for visitors when they search for exact information in the blog. what i want to tell is, use popup whenever it was necessary and make it right side of the blog. So it will not become problem for visitors. 🙂

  2. I think that pop-ups can help increase the visibility of a product, if managed with great care. Nevertheless, I tend to exit immediately sites which are clogged with ads and audio or video popups, but I don’t mind popups that appear after I have read a post.

  3. It depends on the avg time that user spends on your blog. If the avg time is less then you ll have to show it before a visitor flies away from your blog.

    • @Bishwajeet: Correct, but if you show it earlier, this will make the average time drop. Basically, low average time means to user interest in your blog.

  4. Ada, I’m not a fan of using pop-ups at all. They really irritate me. Using exit popups sounds like a viable option. I’m going to check out the Optin skin that Ileane mentions. That sounds very promising.

  5. Pop ups can be much useful for sellers, but then can greatly irritate other people, and I’m not an exception

  6. Hello Ada…Pop-ups are sometimes really helpful especially in blogging…But there are some people, like visiting blog sites, who really hate them and in turn, they are not interested to continue reading anymore…

  7. I’m not the biggest fan of pop-ups myself if i am honest. But i read an article earlier today explaining that ‘exit pop-ups’ as they’re known, are really effective! Raising sales/ sign-ups by 200% in some cases.


  8. it is true, popups at the start is very annoying. I tend to leave the site because of pop ups. There are sites that has none stop pop ups ad…
    they should read your post..great!

  9. Thank you all for your suggestions and feedback. 🙂
    Many years ago, when I was more of a developer and a user, I also used to hate popups but when I became a webmaster I saw the other side of the coin. 🙂 You can’t keep a site alive, if you don’t monetize it well and popups are really one of the best ways to make your message visible. I still haven’t grown to the point to love popups and to miss them when there aren’t any, though. 🙂 🙂

  10. In my opinion, a sliding popup after one has finished reading the post/page is a good idea. Also, exit popups are good as well but the popped javascript dialog box is irritating.

  11. Even before I started reading your article I thought about how irritating it is to see popups – specially at the start when I have just landed on the home page and have not even read anything yet. I’m not sure if I would love to put my readers in a situation I find irritating myself. Maybe if it’s relevant to what I was reading. The most annoying popups are the ones with an audio or video because it makes me jump when it just pops out of nowhere.

  12. I think delayed popups are the only way to go, if you REALLY have to use popups at all! I don’t even look at entry/exit popups for longer than 1 second, I just close whatever pops up. So a delayed pop up is the only chance for you to show me something, will I’m still interested in the site, but it shouldn’t be any bigger than 1/4-1/2 the screen size and with an clearly visible close button. Otherwise you loose all credibility (in my eyes)…

  13. Ada, I’m not a fan of using pop-ups of any kind but I did find a solution that is working for me. I’m using the Optin skin which is a product created by Glen Allsop from ViperChill. This plugin allows the optin box to appear at the bottom of the post on a time delay. So it doesn’t pop-up at all but it’s just as effective because of the delayed timing before you see the optin box.

  14. I used to hate popups but reading this has been interesting. I have a very useful virus guard that I paid a lot of money for and it guards against most popups. I see them as advertising really and I see advertising as temptation so I’d rather not see the popups!

  15. Hi Amrik,

    Good point! I am not quite familiar with the technical aspects of popup plugins but I presume they must use cookies or some other client-side technology to store user preferences, when such preferences are available (i.e. when you give the user to option to choose whether to be displayed more popups or not).

  16. Hi Ada,
    Popup plugins must come with full compatibility with any caching plugin: the cookies are handled on the client side so the plugin is not affected by issues related to a caching system like WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache.

    Thanks for this awesome article.

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