JavaScript Popup: SEO, Accessability?

Hi everyone,
I have a question about SEO and accessibility.

Our programmer added this JavaScript popup to our website. It pops up on the first page that you go to and is as follows:

If you are planning to use the shopping basket during your current session, please consider giving us an email address that we can use to recover your shopping basket items in case something goes wrong (which sometimes happens).

  1. This is completely optional but strongly advised.
  2. We will not use this email address for any other purpose than shopping basket recovery.
  3. Leave the box blank if you do not wish to use this feature.
  4. If you want, you can set this email address from the shopping basket page later.
  5. Also, consider signing up for a free membership! That way your shopping basket items are always saved!

You shouldn’t be seeing this message again anytime soon.

Please enter an email address below or click ‘Cancel’

It contains a description of what the issue is with recovering shopping baskets that may otherwise be non-cached on the client’s browser. (They walk away from their computer for a week and come back, expecting the shopping basket to still be there. We have a user login and a wishlist system too but they don’t seem to understand that this is typically only a sign in and save feature for websites)

On the iPhone and iPad I can’t read this JavaScript popup text at all because it is way too big for the screen. I also have questions about whether this is hurting SEO or not, it seems to definitely be a downgrade for accessibility. It will go away if you click Cancel but I can also just see it as a bad experience for a customer’s first impression of the website.

Any thoughts and opinions on it?

They walk away from their computer for a week and come back, expecting the shopping basket to still be there.

I wonder what’s wrong with these people? Or are they getting this “feature” from other sites such as Amazon, which sneakily makes sessions in the back and accounts for people as they use the site? (which might be a better way of dealing with this… instead of demanding they do some kind of work, just wait til they’re already doing some work anyway and re-use it to improve user experience instead)

So this is supposed to be helpful and useful, but is actually Clippy-annoying and possibly inaccessible… so here’s some better ideas, I think. (if you use these ideas, you don’t have to worry at all about SEO)

You could instead offer a one-short-sentence “alert” ONLY when someone new-and-not-logged-in adds their first product to their basket, saying “see how your email address can remember items in your basket for you” (or similar, and preferably shorter) and a plain old link to that longer text you posted above, as another page or something. Since popups aren’t fitting on mobile screens, either only popup info for desktop or just let everyone go to a separate page. People don’t mind separate pages, really.
I like this a lot: it’s rather unobtrusive, and it only appears when the user does an action where now your email-scheme would actually benefit them. And they still have the passive option of just ignoring it, rather than needing to click Cancel.

The alert should either show up wherever their basket stuff is (if it’s the usual top-right area most places put these things), or better yet, near the button they clicked to add the item to their basket. If an automatic page refresh happens at that point instead, then wherever user studies show people’s eyes go to first thing on that page. You’ll need to test this to see if people miss it entirely, because if nobody sees it, it will never work, and whomever suggested the ginormous annoying popup will have had a “better idea”. So test whatever you implement on a few random (not terribly familiar with your site) people.

I think that’s probably what you want: OFFERS information WHEN it benefits people WITHOUT requiring any action. People who get all pissed that their unsaved baskets are empty when they come back from Hawaiian vacation are the people who will care enough to click that link. Everyone else will shrug and say “well yeah, nothing else gets remembered when I close a page or sit too long either”. Or maybe I’m weird, but I never expect things to be remembered. Especially e-commerce, where in the meantime that thingie in my basket may have sold out now, or changed price.

If you’re worried specifically about screen readers, maybe maybe maybe an aria-role=“alert” or aria-live=“polite” might make sense (live regions tend to be things sitting on the page who change regularly from user interaction, so probably alert makes more sense). I use it for when users add stuff to their baskets and the little basket area in the upper-right of the page changes the number of items and price. It unobtrusively lets users know their basket action worked, updates them with very short information, and doesn’t disturb their keyboard or screen reader focus.

In addition, you can and probably should repeat this information as a single sentence + link-to-longer-text, just regular in the page (no popup or JS, and don’t show or display:none to people already logged in), at the top of their View Basket page, or near the View Basket button/link, and perhaps when they are already filling in their email with all that other information they do when they actually go to buy (remind them that later on they can use their email address to save baskets and wishlists, again with a very short one-sentence bit).

You could, on those pages, even style it as a “handy tip” with a little related icon. It then stops being a pain in the a$$ for customers and browsers (by browsers, I mean people who look but don’t intend (yet) to buy), and becomes something helpful and useful.

I don’t think search engines are going to read content from a javascripted popup, so this likely has null effect on SEO. The intrusive popup may cause high bounce rates from your main page though… if SE’s detect that and use it in rankings, then I suppose it would be “bad for SEO”. I leave most pages with crappy popups telling me they use cookies and I have to agree to them (it’s part of European law now), or I use my browser debugger to display: none that crap. Non-developers just leave, or click mindlessly without reading, neither of which benefits you.

Ran into a site today that does something equally bad:

Sure, it sounds like a benefit to users: get great deals in your inbox! But is that the current goal in the user’s mind when they go to the main page? Usually not. I not only find the popup intrusive and annoying, but it’s displayed at the wrong time. Makes more sense to say things like “give us your email so we can spam you with great deals” after the user has snuffled around a bit, or clicked on any actual promotions, or has added something to their basket (going from a casual browser to almost a buyer) and since there they’ve got to add their email address anyway, set the offer there (“you’re already a customer; do you want to get deals via email? [checkbox]”).

I wonder what’s wrong with these people?

Developers have trained customers and users to think illogical when it comes to functionality expectations.

Personally, I’d feel that if a site keeps a neglected shopping cart for more than 48 hrs it as trespassing on my privacy and even (brick and motar) supermarkets re shelve unattended carts after an hour of so. Then again I have never thought hey I never fished that shopping I was doing last month… lemme go back to the site and pick up where I left off.

On a scary note LOWES ( brick and mortar/web) home improvement store actually offers a purchasing record to their customers now. So if you cant remeber what kind of grass seed you bought for your lawn ‘last spring’ now they keep that info for you.

Back to the OP.

Why don’t they make the popup responsive? that is , scale the element so that it’s dimensions will scale to device’s window and maybe put the ‘close button’ in a more accessible location?

You could instead offer a one-short-sentence “alert”

I agree with Stommes, as usual. However I understand clients and can almost hear them say “what if the user never go to the reasons page? The’ll never sign up with us !” Still , in USER centric design, her solution is way more logical.

n addition, you can and probably should repeat this information as a single sentence + link-to-longer-text, just regular in the page

I was going to say the same thing. Or rather, I was thinking that the for the ‘first time user’ not knowing this is just the “entrance due” But that when non member’s view their cart this WHOLE information is shown as an aside withing the form. The very first time the user might be unaware of this. The following times or if the user has come back after neglecting his cart to go to Hawaii for some reason, the user will not only see the message but see it at a relevant time ( the time when s/he thinks… I have lost the items on my cart, and I now KNOW that sucks, how can I prevent it from happening again!)

All of our office webshops do this. It’s pretty common in B2B e-commerce: usually businesses re-do the same orders again and again (weekly office supply orders for example). The db keeps track of orders, sale lines, sale orders and a whole bunch of crazy stuff like order quotes, orders on hold, orders waiting for supervisor to ok, and orders waiting for stock to come back.

Amazon saves completed orders at least until they can get a review of the product out of you. They then keep that order associated with your account on the back end so they can use it for product suggestions.

By the way when I said something appearing when users add something to their baskets… I was thinking what we do, which is either an ajax injection or something built into our python framework called “Flashes” which are messages who appear in-page on a page refresh with a message that vanishes after the next page refresh or navigation away. It’s not a popup, but there’s a template system that determines if and when bits of HTML show up.

The developer may be relying on Javascript because s/he doesn’t have this possibility, but I really like flashes.

Haha, punish them once to get it in their heads… that’s evil. I like it.