I was working on a non profit site www.gettingtoknowcancer.org and one of the requirements was to have a subscribe form on the right.So I created the subscribe form like this

enter image description here

which when clicked leads to this :

enter image description here

So when this form is submitted,the user is presented with a success message as given below

enter image description here

Now this "pop out" containing the success message recedes back into the launch trigger on the right after five seconds

enter image description here

So now the question is,is it bad design to hide the popup message after a short duration and if so,what are the alternatives.My concern was that I didnt want to place the onus on the user to hide it.

However considering the latter case that its not bad design, is there any research into the time frame for which short amounts of information must be displayed for it be read and understood by most people ?

I apologize for the large number of screenshots

  • 5
    Don't apologize for providing descriptive screenshots, a picture is worth 1000 words and all that! Anything that makes the question as unambiguous as possible is not a problem. UX is a very visual field so the more questions we get with screenshots the better.
    – JonW
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 9:26
  • 3
    The annoying thing about your particular message is that it hides the navigation. I would definitely fix that, regardless of whether you decide to autoclose it.
    – Rahul
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 10:08
  • 1
    Your form is missing the legend for red asterisks, the validation checkmark is too far away from the field, and the privacy disclaimer is below submit button.
    – dnbrv
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 13:57
  • Are you using ARIA tags and what happens to the focus while these are happening? It seems that there are many possible accessibility issues - and something a Cancer site should consider.
    – Susan R
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 14:16
  • related: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/21862/…
    – JOG
    Commented May 28, 2012 at 14:16

3 Answers 3


OK design, but not necessary:

  • It saves the user a click for dismissal, but if the user happens to miss the message, she might feel forced to re-open up the subscription form.
  • No matter the time frame chosen, there will probably be three groups of users:

    1. less experienced users that find it dissappearing too fast,
    2. target group users that find it dissapearing just perfectly when they are about to consider dismissing it,
    3. fast users that will want to dismiss it directly but finds nowhere to do that.
  • I do not really understand why you put information about a Strategic picture in the box. If this is important, then it is contra-productive to automatically close the box.

Suggestion: Instead, make it easy to dismiss:

  • Minimize the amount of text in the box, for example to: You are now subscribed!, to make it easy for the user to decide to close it.
  • If you are going to send the subscriber an email with a confirmation link, then add the text Check your inbox! or similar to your popup box.
  • Inform about the strategic picture some other way.
  • Make it easy to dismiss by:

    a. Adding a text "Click anywhere on this box to dissmiss" and implement that behaviour

    b. Adding a big closing cross image button.

  • Don't close it automatically.

PS. The large number of screen shots are fine. They illustrate your question perfectly.

  • Some really good points ,I am thinking of going the route of just avoiding giving them the option of downloading the strategic document here and providing it another way which would also help reduce the size.I do like the 'click anywhere in this box option'
    – Mervin
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 6:23
  • Great :) The "click on this box to dismiss" idea I got from these StackExchange sites. If applied consistently, it is easy to understand, and super fast (Fitt's law) when learnt.
    – JOG
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 6:49

In my opinion there is a fine line between not leaving the success panel up with enough time to allow the user to read the message before auto-hiding it - and leaving it up so long that the user starts to wonder if and how they need to close it themselves.

Since that line will vary from person to person, you are simply not going to cater for all people all of the time and you are therefore only going to be able to cater for an 'average' user - whatever that is for your particular audience.

The variation in what the user finds 'ideal' is a range, but your chosen delay period has to be precise.

In other words - there is no one-size-fits-all. For this reason, to avoid the problem as much as possible, the success box needs to contain as little as possible, and not contain information of value which is lost once the box disappears.


After the user has subscribed you could change the green/white icon in the trigger area to be a question mark or similar, and change the word Subscribe to Your subscription or Subscription information or similar, so that the user can find out about the subscription that they just subscribed to - or yesterday or whenever it was (in the case of return visits).

After all - they're not going to want subscribe again - but they might very well want to access the subscription information (which email was used, option to unsubscribe, as well as access to the link that was in the success panel before it slid away. Otherwise the trigger area becomes redundant after subscription anyway.

If you switched the icon and label as the panel slid away, user's might notice the change more - you could even fade the panel as it slid away, so that the changes on the trigger area were then more noticeable - user will be looking in the general area as the animation happens but you don't want to bury the changes in the trigger area with the distraction of watching the animation.

This would all then help to alleviate the disappearance of the panel because the information is not not lost in the process.

You could even rethink the strategy as a whole and remove the success box completely - in favour of a simple success/thank you message in the trigger area, which then turns into a 'Your subscription' button as above.

  • So... 1300ms then?
    – Rahul
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 10:07

My suggestion:

  1. Hide it, so a user does not have to click once more.
  2. Include a little [x] for those who want is out of the way faster (just like Skype/MSN notifications)
  3. For users who missed it somehow, confirm it again, once they try to open subscription form.

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