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I'm building my portfolio page where I have some thumbnails that, when clicked, show the respective study cases. My idea is to open them on a fullscreen overlay on the same page (like those that shows fullscreen menus when an hamburger menu is opened), but I'm concerned if this is a bad choice and that I should open on a new window. I am aware of the ux problems of modal windows but the structure that is emerging seems different from the old modals.

  • Some e-commerce sites include, on their product grids, a Quick View (a modal with some brief details) plus links to dedicated pages of full details. The QV allows the user to quickly flip through the catalog. That scheme could work for a portfolio. – Ken Mohnkern Jan 4 '16 at 21:56
  • Thanks so much, Ken! This seems very useful, I'll test it – CliveL Jan 14 '16 at 0:47
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A "modal" window is not inherently bad. Among that pattern's advantages:

  • User doesn't have to leave their place in the list
  • Feels like less work to browse through projects, which you want people to do (I'm assuming)
  • Doesn't require a full page load, so it might feel faster (depending on what else you have going on behind the scenes)

However, as milano suggested, you should make sure that your design supports using the back button, and I would also highly recommend supporting direct links. Here are some other commonly janky things about modals, which you should watch out for:

  • Background scrolls instead of—or along with—the contents of the modal. This usually happens after the modal's content is done scrolling one direction or the other
  • Clicking outside the modal doesn't close it
  • Modal takes over the entire screen, including the navigation, and there is nothing to signify where I am or how to get out of here (except maybe a big 'x' button)
  • Modals aren't properly sized on mobile devices...they might be too large and require people to scroll, or too small and squeeze the content into an uncomfortably small space for reading
  • There is no close button

This article from the Nielsen Norman Group would be a good one to read if you're concerned about the usability of your design, and as always, testing a prototype with users is a great way to find out definitively whether it's usable or not.

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    Thank you so much, Nate! You were right about what made me consider the modal option. I'll use your checklist and the article as some guidelines to ponder if I'll choose to go to the modal route. Best wishes. – CliveL Jan 14 '16 at 0:56
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I would definitely avoid using modals for displaying detailed content. There are some serious disadvantages for user:

  • you can't copy&paste URL of the content you'd like to share
  • you can't open the links in new tabs to read them later

These are two basic reasons why I'm against displaying detailed content in modal window. You should also think about using this principile in mobile device which could be quite confusing.

  • Thank you, milano! I missed the url problem, you're very right about it. – CliveL Jan 14 '16 at 0:45

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