Javascript Overlays Are The Pop-Ups ‘De Nous Jours’

“Stop shoving crap in my face, if you want me to stay on your site!”

Just a leetle Overlay. Eet is verra theen! [Image Credit: Rex Features]

Remember the bad old days of the Intarwebs, when we used to all get annoyed about websites that shoved pop-up windows in our faces?

I think, somewhere in the ancient bowels of this blog, I once compared such goings on to; a waiter, unannounced, shoving the wine menu between your fork and the plate you were about to eat from and demanding you give it your attention… “RIGHT NOW!!!”.

It’s that kind of level of ill manners.

Well, thankfully those days are behind us now. Most browsers have the facility to block pop-up windows and, although it’s not 100% fool-proof, it works enough of the time that most websites have given up on pop-ups and, these days, you really only see them on the kind of sites which are the dingleberries on the arsehole of the internet anyway.

So, all’s right with the world now, then?

Well, not quite. For, of late, I’ve noticed that it seems an increasingly annoying number of websites are reviving the ‘delights’ of the old pop-up through Javascript Overlays.

Thanks to AJAX and the innumerable Javascript libraries it spawned, it’s possible to cause an overlay to appear on top of the content of your site, whilst someone is in the middle of reading it. This can be triggered in various ways such as: having the overlay appear after a set amount of time, or having it appear when the user scrolls past a certain point on your page. You’ll notice that, like our fictitious ‘rude waiter’, both of these techniques involve drawing you into the content first, then shoving the metaphorical wine menu between your fork and plate. And, unfortunately, unlike with traditional pop-ups, these insidious overlays are a lot harder to block, without disabling Javascript, which would cripple most of the modern intarwebs.

I’ve got so irked by this of late that I’ve started “voting with my eyeballs” by instantly closing any website which does this to me. It can be a bit of a wrench sometimes –especially if I was in the middle of reading something interesting or informative. But I think we should all start doing this, nonetheless.

If, while poring over their visitor stats, the webmasters of all these sites noticed that every time a page stuck a Javascript Overlay in someone’s face, that person left, they’d soon stop doing it.

And here, in no particular order other than my remembering to screengrab them at the time, is a ‘Hall of Shame’ which I’ve snapped over the past couple of weeks while browsing the web. This represents only a fraction of the annoying overlays I’ve seen during that time. But if any of the webmasters in question are reading this: As soon as you threw these overlays on top of what I was reading, I instantly left your site and took my goldfish attention span elsewhere.

So there!

JS Overlay Hall of Shame

ByeBye Newsweek!
ByeBye TheNextWeb!
ByeBye It’s FOSS! –Showcasing Linux’s multi-tasking abilities by throwing two overlays in my face at once
ByeBye How-To Geek –How to annoy your readers?
ByeBye Castle Ink! No thanks, I don’t like intrusive overlays!
ByeBye CNET! –I’ll not CNET you later
ByeBye LiveJournal! –Wow! you still exist.
ByeBye PC World!




[UPDATE: Fans of being slapped in the face by a rude waiter while trying to read the menu, can find a follow-up to this post HERE]

TAGS: popup, overlay, javascript, pop-up, annoyance, websites, ajax, js, newsweek, thenextweb, itsfoss, how-to geek, castle ink, c-net, livejournal, pcworld,


AUTHOR: stíobhart matulevicz

This article was originally published on on 04 May 2015, but was hidden behind a series of javascript overlays, exhorting the reader to “Quick!–Read what’s behind this overlay!”