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I'm creating a set of pop-up reminders for a system which depends on user-entered address info so that tax receipts can be mailed out on time.

  • reminder is displayed in a modal pop-up
  • user always has option to one-click "remind me tomorrow"
  • default reminder (if the user just closes the pop-up) that renews every 7 days
  • in February the reminder renews every 4 days
  • in March every 2 days
  • once the info is filled out, the pop-up is never displayed again

Any thoughts on this? While it's important to have this info filled out, it's important that we don't irritate user, especially new ones.

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2 Answers 2

Intrusiveness does not equal effectiveness. Some people may have genuine reasons not to enter the data or to delay it, for instance, they know the address would change or are accomplishing the same task by other means.

I think a prominent notification bar on top (like GMail does) is almost always preferable to a modal pop-up.

GMail notification bar picture

Advantages:

  • User needs to perform a task, perhaps an urgent one. Modal dialog impedes their flow and distracts them from their main task.
  • Once the user dismisses the modal dialog (which they are likely to do), they are not likely to come back and do the nag task (they'd have: to remember it, want to do it, and have a way of finding it in the UI). Their next chance to do the nag-task is when popup opens again (at the wrong moment).
  • The notification bar, on the other hand, is always present, so they can easily launch the nag-task at a more convenient time (when done with the main task or when waiting for something to complete).
  • The only disadvantage I see is that notification bar can be more easily ignored if it does not sufficiently contrast with the rest of the page. However, this is offset by the fact that it is on top of the app, taking prime visual space until dismissed (rather than showing up for a limited time at a possibly bad moment).

When deadline comes around, you may have to force the users to complete the nag-task, with no way to postpone it. Before that time, I think a modal popup would only serve to annoy them.

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Great points, thanks for the thoughtful response. We don't have a designated area for user messages at this point but I might have to go down that path. I really like the idea of having a specific point in time where the information has to be filled out. Thanks again. –  d3l3t3m3 Apr 4 '11 at 17:43
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+1 For this response. I agree with just about everything dbkk has mentioned. The only other suggestion I would make is to put some kind of small notification icon (like a ! icon or something) to alert them that there is something that needs to be completed. This would be visible is the notification bar is not visible. –  Jason Towne Apr 5 '11 at 16:04
    
... Or instead of a "?", a tiny postit with the number of uncompleted tasks written on it. –  Bryan Oakley Dec 6 '11 at 0:08
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I was thinking about a related issue just today, and just about convinced myself that Stack exchange sites do this very well. The information appears at the top, and requires you to dismiss it if you find it annoying. If it's not annoying, you have tne option of leaving it there as your own little personal reminder. I really like this concept and think it strikes a nice balance of usefulness, visibility and unobtrusiveness.

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