Has this ever happened to you? You’re studying the menu on restaurant’s site, and just as you are reading the description for the Moroccan lentil salad, you are shown an annoying lightbox. Did you just win a free salad? No, someone wants to “connect”:
Sorry, Ellary’s Greens, I’m going to use your site as an example, even though this is happening on far too many sites right now. I assume that the waitstaff at Ellary’s doesn’t make a habit of grabbing customer’s menus while they are reading them only to ask if they’d like to receive emails about news, recipes and special events. Why should website visitors be treated any differently? This isn’t just a bad user experience, it’s user hostile.
At least the Ellary’s site gave me a few seconds before throwing a lightbox in my face. Many sites obscure their content immediately with a lightbox asking for something, usually an email address. Make magazine immediately comes to mind, but there are too many offending sites to list.
So, what is a designer charged with bolstering the email subscription list to do? Find another place to put your email subscription, don’t put it in a lightbox. Sure the ham-fisted lightbox may get more subscriptions, but how many of those are bogus emails like “email@example.com” and “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Remember, those additional subscriptions come at the cost of your users, which you will have interrupted and annoyed.
If my argument isn’t convincing enough, read Please stop french-kissing your site visitors.