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I'm designing a 4-step wizard flow for a web application. My confusion is that while the user is in the wizard should the main application menu be accessible to him considering that the wizard has to be completed in one go?

Here are two options I can think of :

Option 1 - Main menu is visible & on click of any of the sections there would be a confirmation message and user can navigate out. But I'm not sure if it will be a good experience. enter image description here

Option 2 - Show the wizard in a full screen modal. Without closing it user cannot access any other part of the application. enter image description here

Please suggest which one of these would work well or if there is a better way of doing it.

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It is a known principle that users should have control and freedom of choice and it is also a know fact that having less distractions will lead to an increase in completion rate.

The best thing you can do for both the user and the business is to go with option two and if your wizard has more than 5 steps it would be great if you could save the progress users make before abandoning the wizard.

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A wizard is dedicated task with a clear goal, and is composed as a sequence of guided steps.

Depending on how much content there is in each step, there are multiple ways you can present your wizard, for example:

  • In a modal dialog
  • In its own dedicated page
  • Embedded in an application page which has other application navigation features

Like most design problems there are pros and cons to consider. For example, if you choose to have a wizard embedded in a page which also contains the application navigation, you will now need to consider what happens when the user decides to click one of the application navigation links, e.g. do you display a warning that the wizard is not complete? Do you offer a Save for later feature?

There is also cost to consider. If you are embedding the wizard there is a slightly higher development cost because you need additional code whenever the user decides to click a navigation link (they are effectively cancelling the wizard if they do this).

So without knowing the specifics of the content of your wizard pages, I am unable to offer any other guidance as to which approach would be best for your situation.

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I'd suggest you to think wizard as a procedure which needs to be completed in one go, there is no pause and resume.

In most of the cases, the wizard doesn't have a close or cancel buttons. But, you can always go back and make the changes.

The wizard could be modal or non-modal.

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Preferably option 2 in my opinion. But there's no hard rule to back that up. Indeed because of costs, but also because of distraction. You are starting a wizard specifically. So that's your main goal. All other things are clutter and distract your attention. But that's my philosphy.

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