There was a discussion recently about the use of modal dialogs in apps to prompt users to take action for things like App Store reviews or adding and changing content. Are these modals too intrusive? Are they a necessary evil? Is there a better way?

Yes, no, and yes.

Instead of stopping the user in their tracks with a prompt that requires action, no matter how justified or righteous, we could take some inspiration from Pocket, a read later service. Pocket built a great alternative to the modal popup, and I asked Nate Weiner, founder/CEO at Pocket about it.

If Pocket notices a URL in your clipboard, it will prompt you with a banner that slides up from the bottom of the display—a “slide-up,” perhaps—which prompts you to save it to your queue. It doesn’t interfere with what you’re doing or require action, and it disappears on its own after a few seconds (you can also slide it down to dismiss). There if you need it, gone pretty quickly if you don’t.

As I suspected, Nate confirmed this is custom UI from the Pocket team, but “not terribly difficult to create. At the core it’s a simple check to see if a url is in the clipboard and some extra logic to prevent it from prompting for the same url over and over.”

Nate added that users love the feature, and it is often mentioned as one of the little details that makes them appreciate Pocket.

I’ve used Pocket for a while, and I really think this slide-up could be a great solution for developers who want to ask or prompt their users to do something. It’s noticeable enough to grab attention, yet pleasantly non-intrusive. It could probably be used for just about everything I’ve seen discussed. Yes, even begging for App Store reviews.

Nate said that it would be difficult to open-source Pocket’s code for a few reasons, but added that “I think it’d be a pretty easy thing for others to make and would be happy to see more of it out there.”

And there you have it.

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