Attention-grabbing pop-ups vs. everlasting embedded content

What works best in UX design?

Try this template
Adam Walker
minutes reading time
Skip to section:
This is some text inside of a div block.

You probably already know that we have a thing for embedded content here at Candu, but that doesn't mean pop-ups don’t have their place. There’s certainly room for them in UX design, and pop-ups done right are useful for drawing attention to important messages. On the downside, they’re interruptive, and too many lead to pop-up fatigue, causing users to ‘X’ out of them faster than they can digest them.

So what’s your other option? Embedded content is messaging within your UX rather than on top of your UX. Without the overlay, embedded content may appear as a banner, a box in the right-hand rail, or a content block within the main body of a page. Wherever it lives, embedded content is non-interruptive to the user’s workflow, and you can sync it with your style guide so it appears as a native part of your app.

Let’s take a look at a few places where pop-ups work, and a few where embedded content can serve your users better.

New feature announcements

If you’re in marketing, you may have heard of the “Rule of 7.” It’s an old adage that states a consumer needs to see a marketing message at least seven times before they’re likely to take action. With pop-ups, you only have one shot before users can ‘X’ out.

A pop-up to announce the Google Analytics mobile app

Embedded content, on the other hand, lives on your page  for users to view again and again. That’s why it’s such a good option for announcing new features. While users might not be receptive to reading about a new feature mid-flow, embedded content gives them the option to access information when it’s convenient. And if they don’t adopt the feature right away? Not a problem. The content will still be there to remind them the next time they visit your site.

AutopilotHQ directs users to advanced features inside the home dashboard


Not every onboarding calls for embedded content. If you just need a name and an email, a pop-up modal is perfect. But what if you’re asking multiple questions in order to personalize your UX? That’s where embedded content is helpful.

A multi-step onboarding may take more than a single session for users to complete (because the phone rings, kids interrupt, nature calls…). For that reason, any onboarding that takes more than a few minutes to complete benefits from having a permanent home in your UI. Consider including an onboarding checklist that guides users through step-by-step and reminds them where they are in the process.

After signup is complete, it’s time for a product tour, and that’s usually best left in your UI as well. A pop-up walkthrough may be fine for explaining a simple product, but that help and guidance disappears as soon as the tour is over.

Microsoft Office 365’s pop-up product tour

Embedded content, on the other hand, lives on so that users can reference it whenever they run into a roadblock. The more complex your product, the greater the need to embed your product tour.

Intercom’s in-app onboarding checklist

Growth campaign messaging

Getting your users to leave reviews, share content, invite friends to your app, or visit your community forum are all critical to growth. But none of these things are particularly critical to using your product or gaining value from it. They’re extras, and they don’t warrant an interruption.

A pop-up is like a bull horn, shouting at users to pay attention no matter where they may be or what they may be working on. Is it really worth interrupting them mid-flow to deliver growth messaging? And will they even be receptive to such an interruption?

Design by“Bubu Dragos” in Dribbble

Alternatively, growth messaging built into your UX gives users the opportunity to engage and share on their own terms. They’re still presented with the opportunity to help grow your product, but the message is more subtle and a whole lot more agreeable.

Inside the dashboard Candu prompts users to share review the app

And the winner is…

So, in the battle of pop-ups vs. embedded content, who comes out on top? Well, that all depends on the complexity of your product. Nothing can grab attention quite like a pop-up, but embedded content is better suited to complex apps, multi-step processes, and non-critical messaging. Plus, it’s everlasting and so much more polite (no interruptions here!).

Want to learn more about creating embedded content without code? Try Candu for free.


Select the template used on this article and customize it based on your users needs.

Try this template

Turn your ideas into UX today

Get a custom walkthrough of Candu

Request free trial