The smartphone has completely transformed my experience of the internet. So long as there is a half-decent connection I can access information whenever I want, and wherever I am. Apart from the carnage it causes during pub quizzes, you’d have to say that the mobile web is a very good thing indeed.

However there is a problem. Most brands are still playing catch up, with regards to the user experience (including Econsultancy). 

Some have launched standalone mobile sites – not a good move, in my view – while others have created apps for mobile users, of varying quality. But it’s still relatively early, with mobile in the ascendency. There is much to learn.

Progress is being made, however. The more forward-thinking brands are undertaking responsive design projects, so their existing websites will be rendered in a friendly way for all kinds of screen sizes. Some brands are doubling down, by launching apps as well as transforming their websites for mobile usage (there shouldn’t be an ‘either/or’ argument if you’re in a position to do both).

But here’s one thing that I think needs to change: the monstrous pop-up overkill that is happening across the mobile web

It’s a little bit like it was in 2003. Back then you couldn’t visit a major – or minor – news site without being beseiged by pop-ups. Everybody hated them and gradually browser technology evolved to include pop-up blockers.

Yet the pop-up format wouldn’t die. ‘Overlays’ started to appear, some of them whizzing around the screen and automatically playing sound, with the ‘close’ button nowhere to be found. Absolutely loathesome. 

In my view, the very worst ad format of all is the interstitial, which is a dedicated page that the user must click past to reach the actual page they were looking for. You cannot visit Forbes without seeing one, replete with an ad and half-witted ‘thought of the day’ message. Here’s a thought, Forbes: why are you keeping your users waiting?

A link should be a promise: you click one to be taken to a specific page. That’s just how it is, and it’s what every web user expects (unless programmed to expect something different, e.g. Forbes, which I no longer visit). Websites that lead you down the garden path before fulfilling the promise only serve to disappoint users. Some mobile sites run the risk of making it onto the shitlist, and if I start avoiding them – as I’ve done with Forbes – then you can bet that lots of other people might avoid them too.

So here are 10 mobile websites that immediately push a pop-up in front of a visitor, to inform them that they can download their mobile app. Some of these are so bad they’re not even pop-ups, they’re interstitials. These sites are serial offenders. Obviously the goal is to generate lots of new app downloads, but is it really worth consistently bastardising the mobile user experience to achieve that goal?

It’s 2013, not 2003, after all… 

The Daily Mail


Herald Scotland

Holy Moly



Map My Run



The Free Dictionary

My thanks to all on Twitter who suggested the above examples.

If you’ve spotted other mobile websites that do this then by all means leave a comment below…