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The site that I am working on has a signed-in and a signed-out state. We're in the process of implementing a soft signed-in state (e.g., remember me on this computer). Doing that requires users to re-authetication to access certain areas of the site (e.g., user profile). One of these areas has some terms and conditions that are presented in a modal. When the activity in this area intercepts the user and requires a sign in, makes the current page based sign in form hard to slot in for this one situation. One train of thought is to present the sign in form in a modal but this forces us to implement the modal sign in across site for consistency.

I'm not a fan of modal because I think modals are an easy way out so to speak. We don't rely on modals when designing for mobile devices... Also, so far the site has had a page based sign-in which is a fundamental change in the user experience. The goal is to make it easy for users by presenting the sign-in in the context of the activity but on the other hand users may find it more of an interruption than redirecting them to and from the sign in page.

We don't have the option of user testing... I'd like to get your feedback on the modal approach.

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In a modal what? Modal is an adjective, meaning "having modes". –  dhmholley Jul 27 '12 at 8:04
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@dhmholley: "modal" is commonly used for modal dialog or modal box, which is basically like an alert box, but contrary to a standard JavaScript alert box you have the possibility to style the dialog etc. –  Chris Jul 27 '12 at 9:30
    
@Chris I wouldn't know about commonly used (it's a grammatically incorrect neologism, and a counterintuitive one at that). If Ally meant modal dialog box, then it would be more appropriate to use the full phrase to improve the clarity of the question. –  dhmholley Jul 27 '12 at 9:51
    
@dhmholley: oh ok, well I am not a native speaker, so sorry. You are right, that would clarify the question. My comment was actually just to help - explain to others that might be confused too... –  Chris Jul 27 '12 at 10:07
    
@dhmholley: I've edited the title, it will be visible as soon as s.o. has reviewed it... –  Chris Jul 27 '12 at 10:09

1 Answer 1

First, I find modal dialog boxes very useful and not at all disturbing. Advantages are like you have said that pages don't have to reload and you won't get directed, so basically it is faster and therefore more convenient.

However, if you want to avoid modal dialog boxes I think there might be another option. As modal dialog boxes also depend on JavaScript, you could also load content (the login form, e.g.) via ajax into the site, wherever you want to place it. So, instead of a dialog popping-up, an area with the login form appears.

If you do not want your users to be able to continue on the site before they are signed in, you can unbind all other events via JavaScript as well.

Furthermore, you could use Ajax to do the sign-in, so the user stays on the page with the login form, in the background the user will be signed in and on success the form disappears again.

For me, that would be most convenient for the user. AND the other advantage you still should think of: what about user who disabled JavaScript? The modal dialog box would not work. However, with the other approach those users with disabled JS would just get redirected.

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