Ask DN: Should we still include close buttons (x) in modal boxes?

over 6 years ago from , Lead Designer

I'm currently designing a website that makes use of a lot of modal boxes for media content, and we're trying to keep the experience clean and visually engaging.

My question to you, fellow designers, is: Do you think it's still necessary to include a close button (usually in the form of an 'x') in modal boxes (or lightboxes), or are modern users used enough to the idea of clicking away from the modal box to close it?


  • Pedro Pimenta, over 6 years ago

    We should.

    I've recently watched as a surgeon tried to click the tooltip of a button rather than the button.

    How will this person ever know that tapping/clicking the outside of a windows will close it?

    0 points
    • Edwin de JonghEdwin de Jongh, over 6 years ago

      Yes and no to this. There will always be users who are computer illiterate or who will in the least not have a good understanding of standard gestures. However, let's be honest, if we as designers were to always design for this user, we would still be stuck in the early beginnings of webdesign.

      An example could be the 'home' button. Most sites always had a 'home' button in their navigation, which brought the user to the homepage. Then after a while, it became a common gesture to click the website-logo to go back to the homepage. At this point, there were (at least) two ways to go back to the homepage on most sites; either by clicking the logo or by clicking on 'home'.

      Then someone asked: Is it still really necessary to keep 'home' in our navigation? It uses up space, it can clutter a 'minimal' design, etc. So nowadays, lots of sites - save for the few that cater to an extremely large audience - only make use of the convention of clicking on the logo to go back to the homepage, instead of including the option in their navigation as well. Like Youtube for example.

      As I said in an earlier reply to someone else: "I'm definitely not advocating going against usability standards, but I'm open to poking and stretching our understandings of user behavior. I guess it also really depends on target audience, type of content and visual language used throughout the design."

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  • Andrew ZimmermanAndrew Zimmerman, over 6 years ago

    I recommend keeping a close indicator (such as an 'x') until OS vendors remove the close indicator from their dialog windows. A semi-opaque close action should be able to be implemented in visibly pleasing and internally consistent fashion.

    0 points
  • Diederik EenschootenDiederik Eenschooten, over 6 years ago

    Yea we have both. Its not like the X is bothering. This way the visiter can chose his preferred way

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  • Account deleted over 6 years ago

    I believe no one should force 'modern users' to memorise the gestures.

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  • Kay Spiegel, over 6 years ago

    Even though a website should be 'clean' and maybe even 'minimal' why don't you include a close (written as a word) link or button at the bottom of the modal's content? This should be understood by any visitor of your website and even include screenreaders.

    0 points