“Pop-ups” are browser windows which open without prompting, displaying new information and/or text when engaged. They have existed since the days of dial-up Internet access and have served to be both useful and annoying, depending on who programmed them. For the most part, modern pop-ups are benign, and are used to prompt users for more information.
Currently, one of the biggest trends with pop-ups is to use them to create scary optical illusions or simulations. The tricks of the eye and the mind have long been documented and many popular “parlor tricks” can now be replicated using the Internet and the power of pop-ups. Standard scary illusions and alerts can be used to grab a viewer’s attention or force them to pay attention when they are otherwise occupied. Some basic tips and methods of using such scary optical illusions include:
Showing that the mind can be tricked to prove a point. Certain tricks of the eye are now commonly established and the doubts created by these tricks are now very popular among conspiracy theorists and image fanatics. Persons who enjoy looking closely at images in order to spot distortions can be proven right or wrong by potentially scary optical illusion pop-ups. Many UFO websites and other conspiracy theory websites use scary pop-ups in order to help visitors understand that what they think they know may in fact not be true.
Startling or frightening the user for an effect. This is particularly popular with Halloween sites. So-called “screamers” which display a scary image or effect in addition to a loud noise are particularly popular, since they are effective at giving the viewer a startle-scare. Unexpected pop-ups, particularly those that wait some time before appearing, are particularly good for this use. The use of such pop-ups has been shown time and time again to be effective in virtual haunted houses.
Surprising the reader in order to get their attention. Many causes and campaigns need to frighten their readers a little bit in order to get them to understand the seriousness of the situation. A pop-up that surprises the reader with graphic images or strong language can be one of the quickest ways of evoking a visceral response. A number of political groups now use this sort of pop up, especially when dealing with medical and social issues which are particularly graphic.
Startling a user who may have fallen asleep. Very long or very boring websites with a large amount of text or a slow video clip may find that they can engage their viewers through the use of a scary pop up illusion or two. Suddenly making the screen appear to melt or change behavior can grab the attention of a sleepy visitor and make them pay attention.
Fooling a visitor into thinking they are viewing a page that they are not. Modern web browsers and broadband connections load pages so quickly that a user may not notice that a pop-up illusion has slipped right in front of their face. By using a scary pop-up illusion in this manner, it is possible to trick a viewer into thinking they are looking at something that isn’t there, an excellent trick for creepy effects for those who want to make an artistic point.
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