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Modals are killing the spirit

Posted: March 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Good practices, Patterns, To do | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

One of the worse things to put on your website/application is a modal alert. I’m not glad with the modal forms either. The only modal thing i can live with must be the lightbox style view of images, if the images are large, this is probably the best way to view them fast and with the smallest effort.

The javascript alerts are the mother of all modals. Why in God’s name would you want a box to pop, tell you something you already know and have to click ONE SINGLE BUTTON to get rid of it? This is sick.

And i’ll tell you why that’s so frustrating: once a modal alert pops in you cant do anything else, you cannot use any of the browser’s functions, cant see on another tab what the terms on the alert are meaning, can’t go back either. This is worse when the message is not clear and you have to confirm something with “OK” and “CANCEL”. “Ok what? Cancel what? Is this gonna ruin the work i’ve done so far if i get it wrong?”. Not funny.

I’m a little bit of a hypocrite. I use javascript confirmation when deleting something. You would think that’s a good thing but it’s not, try to delete 10 things one by one and you’ll know what i mean.

Solutions:
- instead of alerts use inline messages (see the yellow bg ones on Gmail) are the most elegant and usable solution to a problem i have ever seen, non intrusive, space saving, time saving. If the messages disappears after a while it’s perfect.

- Instead confirming a delete let the user delete stuff and provide a “UNDO” option. (It’s said that the undo functionality is the greatest way to let user explore, fuckup, recover, the best way to change the user from beginner to intermediate). Of course, this is no easy job for a developer. Providing such a feature is a real pain in the ass, that’s why you don’t see it on many web applications, that’s why i break the usability rules and ask users for confirmation when deleting.


One Comment on “Modals are killing the spirit”

  1. 1 Ionut Staicu said at 11:33 am on March 9th, 2009:

    I’m a little bit of a hypocrite. I use javascript confirmation when deleting something. You would think that’s a good thing but it’s not, try to delete 10 things one by one and you’ll know what i mean.

    For bulk action (either is delete, move or anything else) you should use checkboxes. Then you will have only one confirmation. You can’t do certain action without user confirmation. And to be sure that user will see you, you must be annoying :P


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