Assume a web application requires access to webcam and microphone. Browser compatibility has been checked and the required hardware is definitely present. When the app enters "chat mode," the user will be presented with a confirmation dialog that varies by browser:

allow webcam in browser

All the user is left to do with is confirming the browser's security dialog.

However, it turns out that some not so tech-savvy users are not quite sure what do to at this point. It takes them at least a moment to figure out what to do next. If they are not regular users of web video chat applications, the dialog is not familiar to them at all, and they don't even expect it.

What best practice helps users understand why they need to confirm camera use at this point and how to do that?

Should this be explained before they get to the actual video chat ("On the next page, your browser will probably ask for confirmation that FooApp is allowed to use your webcam. In order to use FooApp, please confirm this.")?

Should the app show some kind of instructions while it's waiting for permissions, instead of just a blank screen ("FooApp is now ready. Please click 'OK' in the security confirmation dialog to share your webcam image.")?

This is also complicated by the fact that the dialog looks different in major browsers.

  • I'm a little confused. How does this confuse a user? It pretty much tells them that the site wants access to their camera, and it highlights ok, and above that with an option on the level of access...?
    – UXerUIer
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 11:57
  • @Majo0od It seems that the dialog gets somehow overlooked by inexperienced users -- especially on a large desktop screen, it's just a small rectangle in the upper left corner of the browser window. They seem to dismiss it as yet another notification of some kind that isn't vital to using the app. This answer suggests guiding the user to the dialog using an overlay. Not sure if this is the most effective way, though.
    – tmh
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 12:08

1 Answer 1


Judging from your answers in the comments (ie that inexperienced users sometime miss the prompt on larger devices) I'd suggest dimming the screen when the prompt appears.

From a UX point of view you need to somehow further highlight the dialogue box, which might be difficult to do. As mention I'd rather downplay the rest of the elements on the page.

Furthermore you can simply navigate the user to a page that

a.) further explains that access to the webcam is necessary or;

b.) allow the user to continue without webcam and give them an additional prompt in the following page(s) - like having their webcam-box in the chat black with a button that says "Activate webcam".

From a programming point of view you could probably find some jQuery snippet that allows you to subscribe to the event that gets triggered when the alert is displayed.

After that has been done you can simply dim the rest of the screen as per this jsfiddle.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.