Pop-up windows actually end up being a nuisance and disturb concentration and efficiency while using the web, a new study has revealed.
The study, led by Dr Helen Hodgetts and Professor Dylan Jones at Cardiff University, showed that although the actual interruption may only last a few moments, people then lose more time when they try to resume the task that was interrupted.
The researchers examined the cost of on-screen interruptions in terms of the time taken to complete a simple seven-step computer task.
They found that even after only a five second interruption, people take longer than normal to complete the next step in the task they are working on.
"The interruption breaks our cognitive focus on the task in hand, so we have to work out where we were up to and what we were planning to do next before we can resume the task at our original speed," Hodgetts said.
The interruptions only caused a few seconds delay in resuming the simple task set in the experiments but in a more realistic work environment, where there is more information to retrieve after the interruption, the loss of concentration could have a greater impact on work performance.
"Our findings suggest that even seemingly brief and inconsequential on-screen pop-up messages might be impacting upon our efficiency, particularly given their frequency over the working day," Hodgetts said.