In 2010 modal boxes arrived
Pronounced like yodel, if you are not sure what one is, click on this.
Sorry. Couldn’t resist. They have spread like wildfire. I love them. However, I have noticed some developers adding them to sites with such obsessive enthusiasm they run the risk of future browsers blocking them like their elderly outlawed ancestor, the pop-up.
What exactly is a modal box?
Pioneered by Lightbox a few years earlier, this slick dialogue box allows the user to view an external element, without leaving the page.
Unlike ‘modeless’ boxes such as a toolbar or the header on this site, a modal box requires an action before allowing you to move on. So strictly speaking, you can refer to every fugly pop-up asking ‘Are you sure you want to delete this ?’ as a modal. However, for this article and when developers talk about modals, they are usually referring to the Lightbox style.
So, what’s great about them?
Modals temporarily halt surfing. Growing scientific evidence suggests internet use is making our brains more susceptible to distraction, so we now all suffer from attention-deficit disorder! Modals help visitors focus on a specific task, with the background tint preventing distraction by other articles, until the ‘x’ is clicked.
Tasks where a visitor responds to a call to action, before resuming with the site, such as clicking on a link to watch a 90 second video or filling out a simple contact form are ideal for this.