I'm currently working on a web application that gathers user input. A chunk of data that I need to prompt the user for is having a hard time fitting itself statically embedded in the page. That's when a popup dialog came to my mind, to prompt the user to select one or many out of a large list of options.

But then I started to feel as though this couldn't live anywhere else, so I'm solving this problem by simply adding another layer in the form of a dialog. And then it made me realize that I don't think I've ever seen a dialog on a website that seemed like it was a good idea. I'm not sure why, but I've never really thought that the dialog experience was a good one on the web, trying to mimic the desktop/native feel.

Any thoughts on this? Are web application dialogs frowned upon for good reason?

  • Can you clarify what kind of user input you are trying to capture? Have you tried a tabbed UI where the user has to complete page by page? Aug 24 '15 at 23:44

Most of the major styleguides advocate a very limited use of pop-ups, or modals. This bit from the iOS guide is typical: https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/documentation/UserExperience/Conceptual/MobileHIG/Modal.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40006556-CH64-SW1.

Perhaps you can collect the information in a separate screen of the application. If it's a very long form, it might be better broken over a multi-step flow.

Consider whether it is absolutely necessary to demand the information in the first pass. Can you prompt the user for additional information on a second or third visit? "Progressive engagement" can minimize the pain of filling out long forms. See, for example, how LinkedIn handles Profile information.


Technically speaking, prompts and pop ups at some point in time, had issues of inconsistency across browsers. However, one does see the change and great deal of improvement on this front offerred by prominent UI frameworks for the web.

I have used forms placed inside a Bootstrap modal for a web application and it shows consistent behavior on the desktops and tabs and mobile devices used in our company.

In conclusion, I do not see any reason why this should be bad UI behavior. as long as it optimizes the business process by avoiding multiple page uploads, it is the way to go. Beside Rich Internet Applications(RIAs) have always tried to emulate the behavior of native/ desktop applications.

Hope this helps.

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