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I've been asked to implement a "reminder" which should indicate to users of a web application that they have not provided a phone number yet. I see two ways of doing this:

  1. When the user logs on to the web application, pop up a dialogue box, with a small textbox to enter his/her phone number. This could be a simple JQuery Dialog (https://jqueryui.com/dialog/). The user then has two options, either enter the phone number and click 'save' (subject to validation), or press 'cancel'. If the user presses cancel then the pop up will appear every time performs an action on the site e.g. click on a menu-item, link, button etc.
  2. The same as above but the user is forced to enter a phone number i.e. there is no 'cancel' button.

The importance of a phone number to the system, is not critical but the product owners wants to ensure that the users eventually update their phone number and thus wants to "remind them often" were the exact words. The users are job-center consultants.

Currently I've implemented the first approach. The user is reminded per action on the web application. I'm worried that the users will be frustrated about this if they for some reason refuse to update their phone number.

By update phone number I mean enter a phone number even though it exists, so it is ensured that the newest phone number is in the system and if it doesn't exist the it is created.

  • In my experience, forcing users to enter a phone number when they don't want to is a great way to get a bunch of 111-111-1111 numbers in your database. – Bobwise Jun 29 '15 at 13:34
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Since the phone number input is not critical, popping up a dialog box is bad user experience because you're annoying your users for nothing too important. I would implement it like this:

In irregular intervals, have an extra box within the page in a slightly different colour than the rest of the page saying "Just a quick check" as the title. Then at the bottom, display the current phone number you have in the system. Then ask the user "Is this correct?" followed by Yes or No buttons. If the answer is No, then take the user to a page where they can update their phone number.

  • Good idea, I like this approach. – DSF Jun 24 '15 at 16:03
  • Reading your answer again - why should I display the reminder at irregular intervals? Compared to regular intervals? – DSF Jun 24 '15 at 19:13
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    Phone numbers are not data that people change often (typically) so reminding them once a month is too much. Maybe once every 3-6 months would be better. – Savv Jun 24 '15 at 19:44
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You need to correlate the need of phone number (yours need) with the user's need. Since, it's a job application, you can prompt the message to complete his profile whenever user apply for the job or whenever user wants to get notify about any new opening with mentioning the benefits.

If you wants to notify user, do it in subtle way, don't block user's way when he/she trying to access the application with unnecessary popups.

Get inspiration from Linkedin/FB/UX.SO

  • Sorry if I wasn't clear but the web application is for users that are job-consultants i.e. they work for the job-centre and have their own system for creating jobs and putting them out there for job-seekers. Not sure if that really changes your answer. – DSF Jun 24 '15 at 15:19
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There are two scenarios in this question: 1) The user has 'not provided a phone number yet' or; 2) The product owner wants to know the phone number is up to date

For the first scenario, it's important to provide a reason why you need this information, (esp. if you can't directly align this with user's needs). So be communicative in the dialog (answer the 'who cares?' question).

Also, a constant pop-up just seems to teach the dismissal behaviour, to address this, you could mimic the pattern Apple uses regarding software updates: Remind me in: 4 hours 1 day etc (this gives the user some autonomy/control).

For the second scenario, I find it hard to imagine a situation where there is regularity to something as big as a phone number change. Is it worth pestering all the time for confirmations? Probably not. You could do it during quiet times periodically through the year, or give some sort of incentive in your CTA. Answer the 'why bother?' question.

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