I think you’ll agree with me on this one:
Popups are annoying.
Despite how effective they are at building lists and converting missed ecommerce sales, they can still frustrate and degrade your visitors' user experience (remember - annoying doesn’t mean ineffective!).
If you want a way to communicate with your users in a slightly less invasive way, you should consider implementing a notification bar instead. Notification bars can give you a lot of the benefits of popups without the annoyance.
Notification bars are those short bars that span the top or bottom of a user's viewable window. They’re unobtrusive and don’t take up a ton of your readers’ screen real estate. But, they’re noticeable enough to still attract attention.
Here’s an example of what a typical notification bar looks like:
I think they’re a great combination of usability and promotion. Oli discussed notification bars all the way back in 2011, but this is the updated list for 2016.
Why should you implement a notification bar?
You can use a bar to display whatever text you want, but here’s what notification bars are especially great for:
- Building an email list - sure, you probably won’t get as many signups as with a popup, but you’ll also annoy your readers a lot less! DIYThemes grew their email list by 1,180 subscribers in 30 days after implementing a notification bar.
- Growing your social media following - some plugins let you share social like buttons in your notification bar.
- Announcing a new promotion - if you’ve got a special sale or giveaway going on, a notification bar is a nice way to let people know.
- Promoting new content - have a new blog post to promote? You can push traffic to it with a notification bar.
- Updating users - if there’s news your visitors need to see, you can keep them updated with a notification bar.
There are a million and a half notification bar plugins out there to help you with these things, so I tried to dig through and pick out only the best.
Here they are:
WPFront Notification Bar
You can also customize the look of the bar by choosing colors and dimensions.
There are a couple nifty functionality features too. You can give readers a close button, have the notification bar automatically disappear after a certain amount of time, and have it display on scroll or lock it to a fixed position.
You get a lot of features for a free plugin. That explains why it has 10,000 active installs and a 4.6 star rating!
WPFront Notification Bar is also routinely updated, so you can be sure it will work with the latest WordPress.
QuickieBar is a beautiful and feature packed plugin. It’s also free.
Some of its unique features are:
- Conditional triggers. You can have your bar only display on certain pages, posts, or just your homepage.
- An included 500 icon set from FontAwesome. You can easily use any of the icons in your bar.
- Top or bottom placement for your bar.
- Instant previews so you can see your bar change in real time.
The design for the bar also just looks flat out beautiful. I think it's the best looking design out of any of the plugins on this list. QuickieBar is definitely one of my favorite notification bar plugins.
WordPress Notification Bar
WordPress Notification Bar isn’t quite as robust, but it’s another free option that’s easy to set up and pretty lightweight. It’s got 8,000 active installs and an impressive 4.8 star rating. Like WPFront Notification Bar, it’s also regularly updated.
WordPress Notification Bar lets you customize your message and the color for your bar. You can also choose whether or not it sticks to the top of your page when a user scrolls.
WP Notification Bars
WP Notification Bars is the plural-named version of the previous plugin.
It’s a free standalone plugin from MyThemeShop which offers a ton of features.
It’s responsive and you can choose to locate it in a fixed position if you want.
One cool feature is the ability to choose who sees different bars. You can create unlimited notification bars. Then, you can choose to display one bar to only people who come to your site from Facebook, or only visitors from Google. This allows you to do some cool customizations, like different greetings for different traffic sources.
WP Notification Bars has 4,000 active installs and 5 star rating (!).
If you need multiple bars, this is the plugin for you.
Hello Bar is a website that allows you to easily create notification bars. Then, with this plugin, you can add that bar to your WordPress site without needing to dig into any of your code.
To use the plugin, just go to the Hello Bar website, customize your notification bar with their cloud-based tool, and paste the code into the plugin.
Easy as pie.
Top Bar is a freemium notification bar plugin with 4,000 active installs and 4 star rating.
In the free version, you can add a custom message and link. It’s pretty limited compared to some of the plugins above.
However, if you choose to upgrade to the pro version for $12, you’ll get access to features like different initial states, the ability to change the bar’s display by user role, a close button, and more.
You can probably get away with the free plugins above, but I included Top Bar because the user role functionality is unique.
Notification Bar for WordPress
Notification Bar for WordPress adds a twist on the other plugins I listed by allowing you to display the notification bar on the sides of your site.
So you can place the bar in one of four places: top, bottom, left side, or right side.
In addition to that twist, you also get support for email gather and social buttons, as well as normal features like color and message customization.
If you want the side locations or social functionality, you should definitely give Notification Bar for WordPress a shot.
Finally, Foobar is a premium plugin available at Code Canyon for $17.
You can create unlimited bars with custom branding and conditional logic.
They’re fully customizable, can include social buttons, and can be located at the top or bottom of the page.
Foobar is by far the best selling notification bar plugin at Code Canyon with 5,009 sales and a 4.55 rating.
Wrapping Things Up
I can’t promise you that notification bars will perform better than popups.
But what I can promise you is this:
They’ll be a lot less annoying for your readers.
For a good all around plugin, you can go with WPFront Notification Bar. If you want slick designs and a big icon gallery, check out QuickieBar. And finally, if you want social buttons and notification bars on the sides of your site, give Notification Bar for WordPress a shot.
Have you had any success with notification bars? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.