Design Trends For Modal Windows On The Web

Modal windows are those popup windows that appear over the screen rather than opening a new tab/window. They usually darken the background to bring attention to the popup.

Most websites running modal windows add some type of call to action whether it’s a button or a form or something. But it can also be a simple message about browser features like disabled JavaScript or an adblock extension.

Everything in the window takes precedence over the page so these modals are meant to draw attention. They can be annoying and outright infuriating but numbers don’t lie: they work.

Let’s delve a bit into current trends of modal windows to see how they work and why you’d use them.

 

Dark Backgrounds & Clickable Areas

Modal windows follow a similar design strategy and they’re not very complicated.

They mostly all use a darkened background on the page to bring attention to the modal content. This shouldn’t be a pitch black background because that can feel intimidating.

Instead the user should see a touch of the page behind the background, but it should have a reduced opacity. This could be 90% or 50% depending on how much you want to hide the page.

 

Display Techniques

There are some popular trends used by marketers who want to display modal windows for certain visitors.

The vast majority of modal popups happen a few seconds after the pageload. Most visitors haven’t even had time to read through the site to understand what it’s about. This seems like the worst way to do modals unless they’re informational for things like cookies or adblock settings.

Other display styles typically work better since they’re geared towards user behaviors. Here are the three most common techniques:

  • Exit modals appear when the user’s mouse leaves the page
  • Timed modals run after X seconds/minutes
  • Location modals appear when the user scrolls down a certain amount

Each scenario is different and should be used based on the audience.

If you run a blog with lengthy content like Smashing Magazine then you might do a scroll-based popup. Other blogs like WPBeginner actually did the exit modal strategy and saw a huge increase in daily email signups.

There’s no denying that this stuff works. It’s just a matter of how you’re willing to run modals and what the end goal is.

Popover Marketing Messages

Modals are primarily used for marketing so the copy should prey on ideas and emotions. Recently modal windows have taken a turn towards the guilt trip approach for their buttons.

Instead of just having buttons that say “yes” and “no” they instead go so far as you make you feel bad or guilty for closing the window.

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