Updated Jul 23, 2021



Modals are used to present critical information or prompt the user for input

What are modals?

Modals, or dialogs, are stopping points in a user experience that intentionally introduce friction. They are disruptive by design. The purpose of a modal should be clear to the user as soon as it is presented, and a path to completion should be obvious.

Example Modal

Example of a destructive confirmation modal
Example of a destructive confirmation modal

When to use modals?

Because of their intrusive nature, modals should only be used in a few situations:

  • Use to present critical information
  • Use to prompt the user for information
  • Use to confirm a decision for potentially destructive or irreversible actions

Best Practices

Modals should always be expected

Opening a modal should always be initiated by clicking a button. A modal should be expected by a user through a user-triggered action and should never open unprompted.

Modals should be used sparingly

Modals are disruptive and cause friction. Only use them when intentionally disrupting a user flow or experience. Modals can annoy the user if they are used too frequently.

Modals should be focused

Within a modal, content length should be short and concise so as to fit within the browser’s viewport. Never use a modal to display a large amount of information or data. Modals should be simple to complete or dismiss and have a clear call to action.



When a modal is opened, focus should be placed on the modal’s container. Focus should also be trapped to the modal’s contents. The underlying page should be unfocusable and unreachable through keyboard navigation.

Dismissing Modals

A modal should be closed when the following happens:

  • The ESC key is pressed
  • The Cancel button in the modal’s footer is pressed
  • The X in the modal’s header is pressed
  • Clicking anywhere outside the modal’s container