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Some pre-clarifications:

  • By floating animated messages I mean the Firefox style messages usually appearing bottom right of the window, for example, when a file downloaded successfully.
  • By confirmation message I mean the modal messages where you have to click Ok / Yes / No / Cancel. My question relates to the specific case where user gets a single Ok option, which dismisses the message on click.

My question is when should we prefer the one over the other?

Generally it seems that the floating notification message is softly grabbing the user attention w/o the brutality of its modal counterpart. However, I see no point of using it when we know that its context is of the current focus of the user. Your comments on this please.

This leads me to my second question: I am working on a desktop application where you can open multiple frames which are hiding each other. The current state is that a confirmation message for a frame which is not in focus (i.e. on top) is nevertheless showing on top of the current frame.

Should one naturally use the floating message whenever trying to show a confirmation message for a not-in-focus frame?

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1 Answer 1

I think fading out the message is applicable when the message is just "informational" and the user could just as well carry on without having specifically read the message.

e.g. "Your Tweet was sent successfully", "3 messages deleted"

However if the user will want to very potentially want to interact with the message/want to read it fully I'd suggest a button to dismiss (or a countdown timer before it auto-dismisses)

e.g. "CoolSong.mp3 downloaded! [Play] / [Open Folder]", "4 errors found with the import file! [View Details]"

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I think you answer "When should one fade a floating message?". My question is when should I use floating message over modal confirmation message (and vice versa)? I will edit my question to be more clear about that. –  Assimiz Oct 31 '13 at 14:24
Thanks @Assimiz I think the fundamentals of the answer still apply. You can use a "toast" (as it is often called) to show information that effectively "doesn't matter too much". However if you need to ensure the users see something and confirm that they've either seen it (and/or) what they want to do with it, then you need a modal dialog. –  scunliffe Oct 31 '13 at 14:44

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