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I'm working on a web application and am a little stuck trying to figure out how I should implement signup forms, login forms, contact forms, and payment forms. I can implement all these in either:

  • modal windows (Ex: Kissmetrics uses a modal for login form)
  • or their own pages (Ex: Stripe uses a separate page for login form)

I've been reading that modal windows suffer from poor accessibility. On the other hand they load faster than a page, which would have more HTTP requests for the user.

What do you think is the better option? Does it matter anymore now that there are better (more accessible) modal windows out there?

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Regardless of whether you use modal windows or not, the key is to provide a consistent and positive user experience. Think about it in terms of how often users have to perform the tasks, if it is going to take longer if it is done in one way versus the other, and you'll go a long way towards answering those questions in the context of your own application. –  Michael Lai May 17 '13 at 5:24
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2 Answers 2

Modals are a popular for a good reason: They provide fast, focused, contextual interaction. Page loads should be saved for when they're really needed to move the flow forward.

Another contextual information option is content that loads into the page as needed. I've used this solution for payment forms in particular in the past.

This article reminds us of what modals really replaced: The dreaded pop-up window!

Modal windows are a useful and effective interface widget to use when designers use them right. They’re so much better than popup windows, that it’s no wonder why popup windows today are nearly extinct. Modal windows have changed the web for the better. Despite the criticism they get, they’re here to stay.

There are solutions for more accessible modals these days. Here's a few ideas straight from Big G.

And a related question here on UX.SE: How can one improve accessibility of modal windows in a browser?

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Pardon my ignorance, but who/what is the "Big G"? The pages you link to do not make that much clearer for me. –  Marjan Venema May 17 '13 at 12:52
    
Sorry. The Big G is Google ;) –  plainclothes May 17 '13 at 16:10
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I like a modal window for "interruption" tasks. That is, tasks that are performed when you're really trying to do something else.

Signing in is a good example. From any page I can click to sign in, complete the little form, and get back to my current task.

Granted, that can be done without a modal (when Sign In is on its own page, submitting can jump you back to the prior page) but the modal allows the original page to remain in the background. Therefore, the user never really leaves it. It's just a brief interruption, not a complete detour.

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