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I have found a site that has a search box in the top left of the website.. when I click the search box it pops up a modal dialog box where you can search and displays product search results

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To me this process seemed quite jarring. Is this an accepted use of modal dialog boxes?

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Modal windows prevent the user from accessing and engaging with the content behind them. Most search components keep page content accessible so that the user can copy/paste terms from it, or at the very least, don't have to remember how something on the page was spelled (thus violating the "recognition over recall" heuristic).

Search is often an iterative process where users refine their terms - expanding or narrowing them - so it's important for them to be able to keep engaging with results and other content. At least, it's more important than forcing their undivided attention into a modal window.

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This is definitely not what the user would expect if he is clicking a search bar since its not like the majority of sites make their search bars behave.

It makes the user think extra, get used to the modal, wonder why he can't just enter his search criteria like on any other site.

So overall not a good choice.

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