Foto de piezas de madera con una cara sonriete dibujada de Shubham Dhage

Popup windows are a popular way to increase conversions and promote content on a website. However, if not used correctly, they can also be a source of annoyance for visitors and negatively affect website performance.

In this post we talk about some of the best practices for using popups to avoid annoying visitors and increase the performance of your website. Our recommendation is that you use a plugin, such as Nelio Popups, to be able to follow these practices easily and without adding a single line of code when creating popups on your WordPress website.

1. Timing is Key

Timing is everything when it comes to using popups. Make sure popups appear after visitors have had a chance to interact with your content, not immediately upon arrival.

The only popup that generally makes sense to display after just landing on a page, and you’ll agree with me that it’s annoying, is the cookie one.

On news or editorial web pages where you must be registered to read their contents, the moment to show the popup window for the user to register or log in is not when they see the news headlines, but when they access to read the detail of an article.

Registration popup before you can continue reading a NYTimes article
Registration/Log in popup before you can continue reading an article from The New York Times.

If you want to display an offer on your e-commerce store or want to make sure your visitors subscribe to your newsletter, a good rule of thumb is to wait at least 15 seconds before displaying a popup.

For example, on our website we have created a pop-up window promoting Nelio Popups that is shown to the user after a few seconds of landing on our website.

2. Make Them relevant

Make sure your popups are relevant to the content your visitors are viewing. This will increase your visitors’ chances of conversion and reduce the chances that they will close the popup.

Display a popup that invites visitors to subscribe to your newsletter after reading information from your blog, offer price discounts from the product and price pages, offer free shipping from the shopping cart page, etc. The more relevant the context in which the popup is displayed, the more conversions you will get.

The Healthy Mummy Promo Popup
Example of The Healthy Mummy promotion popup displayed when accessing a product page.

3. Use Exit-Intent Technology

Use Exit-Intent technology to detect when a visitor is about to leave your website and then display a popup window. It can be an effective way to capture leads and promote content without disturbing visitors. If you also offer them a contextualized offer on the page they are on, even better.

For example, on the pricing pages of some of our products we display discount pop-ups.

This is very easy to implement with the Nelio Popups plugin. When defining the popup, you only have to indicate on which page you want it to be displayed and when.

4. Limit the Frequency

Limit the frequency of popups to avoid annoying visitors. A good rule of thumb is to show a popup only once per session or once a day.

For example, surely if you have been browsing our website, you will have seen a popup promoting Nelio Popups. Whether or not you clicked the button on the window, once closed, you will find it annoying to see it again. For this reason, in the popup specification, we have indicated that the window display frequency should only be once per session.

Limiting the frequency a popup is displayed to once a day
Limiting the frequency that a popup is displayed to once per session.

5. Make Them Easy to Close

Make sure popup windows are easy to close. This will reduce the chances of visitors getting frustrated and leaving your website. It is only justified that a window cannot be easily closed if one has to block the user’s navigation until a certain action is carried out, such as the cookie or login window to continue reading. In any other case, allow the window to be closed, not only showing a cross or any other button to close it, but also, as you can see in the image above, allowing its closure by clicking anywhere outside the popup or by clicking the ESC key.

6. Use the Appropriate Design

Use an appropriate layout and make sure your popups are consistent with the overall design of your website. This will help make popups more visually appealing, less intrusive, and look like part of the website itself.

With the Nelio Popups plugin you create your popups, using the same block editor that you use to create your pages and posts. Therefore, by default you already have the theme, images and CSS styles of your website available to create any popup with a fully integrated look and feel to your website.

You also have predefined patterns that you can add by selecting them with a single click in the pattern sidebar and then edit and customize them as you wish.

7. Be Respectful with Data

Be respectful of your visitors’ data, make sure you are clear about what you are going to do with their data, and comply with data privacy regulations. If your website is located in the EU and you use cookies, make sure that you have a pop-up window warning the user that they must accept cookies to continue browsing the site.

Screenshot of Nelio's cookie dialog
Screenshot of Nelio’s cookie dialog.

If you include a form in any pop-up, make sure you’ve also included the appropriate privacy information.


By following these best practices, you’ll be able to use popups to increase conversions and promote content without disturbing visitors or negatively impacting your website’s performance.

Using a tool like Nelio Popups, it is very easy to design popups with these characteristics and with a fully integrated look to your website. What are you waiting for to try it out?

Featured image by Shubham Dhage on Unsplash.

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