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So, recently I have encounter a UX challenge. There was a screen I was designing where I need to show some options in a dialog box. When we were handing over the screens to the developers they raised a question -

Q. How to handle a situation where they need to show errors-popups which are generated independent of the application? These independent error are shown in few scenarios where hardware got disconnected, machine jams, sensor error, dust blocking lense etc. etc.

Showing a popup on top of another modal window doesn't seem to me a correct UX and I kind of confirmed it after reading some material over internet.

Although, new Angular framework has an option to show multiple dialogbox/popups overlaying each other but it looks really ugly and I have found only one example in Angular.

My question - Is there a better way to resolve such situation where I don't have a control over system generated popup but at the same time I need to show dialogbox/popups for our app (ex - confirmation dialogbox)

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  • Does your dialog box cover the whole screen? Are these errors urgent - will they affect the choices in your dialog?
    – Luciano
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 9:57
  • Yes both cases are urgent.
    – B L Λ C K
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 15:11

2 Answers 2

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To answer your question let us think like a USER. Do we like popups.... maybe but not more than one or two? Now if we are talking about more than say 3 popups that we have to close that's annoying/bugging and definitely not a great user experience.

So what to do. I would say there are two problems that we are solving here

  1. Do we even need a popup as a way of showing a notification
  2. Can we reduce the number of clicks to close all pop-ups

And assuming the intent is:

  1. User should read all popups or be informed
  2. Have a great user experience

To solve the first and second problems I would say we can

  1. Have a permanent notification placeholder/icon where we can display a notification with the number written on some corner of the icon. to make the user know that there are notifications, we can have a popup when the user logs in on that screen saying you have 5 notifications waiting for your immediate attention, and then the popup goes in say 3-5 sec

  2. Another way could be to have a one-liner notification, one below another with one closing icon on the top right, with an option of that disappearing in sometime

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    I don't think your first proposal would work with the case described here. If the hardware got disconnected and the user needs to fix it right now before proceeding with her work, you cannot display it somewhere in the background.
    – Nash
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 6:25
  • @Nash You exactly understood the point of my questions. I also disagree with giving a dedicated section for errors and warning when you have limited space on the screen and also when they occur infrequently but they are critical.
    – B L Λ C K
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 6:43
  • One liner notification are great when you have errors and warning that are somewhat familiar to the users. My fault, I didn't mention that the software that we are designing is a kiosk based interface for a niche industry.
    – B L Λ C K
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 6:46
  • some further question @ BLACK. So are you saying that the user will be getting these all popups in a kiosk. Why should he/she get popups in a kiosk. Dont you think it should have one popup telling all the errors or aggregation of errors. See we need to understand if the errors we are showing is an actionable item by the user or just an information? Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 13:28
  • @RiteshGupta As I have mentioned in one of my comment that it is a very niche industry where those scenarios I have explained are happening in real life. Those actions require user intervention in order to proceed, as Nash has guessed already. Those kiosk are attached to a very critical operation, hence "most" of the errors are critical.
    – B L Λ C K
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 17:09
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Show the popup on top of the other modal

From your question I got that the errors

  1. Are urgent: The user needs to resolve them before continuing to work with the software.
  2. Happen anytime: You cannot predict when they will happen.

I also hope that these errors happen rarely, otherwise the UX will suffer a lot. Therefore, I don't see any other option then to show it obtrusively with a modal or a toast in the face of the user.

Similar case: I had a similar case in the past where we would have to show an error message on a website if the backend got disconnected. In this case the user had to stop working otherwise changes could not be saved. We also opted for a red error toast.

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  • Totally! you understood the problem but I would like to that my problem was when user is trying to select something from a dialog box within the app and hardware got disconnected that would render an error popup on top of the dialog box. Should I show popup on top of dialogbox? Is it a good UX ?
    – B L Λ C K
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 6:52
  • 2
    No, I don't think it is good UX, but the best you can do in this situation. Can the user proceed without acting on the error? Yes -> Show a toast message that fades away. No -> Show a dialog over the dialog box.
    – Nash
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 9:32

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