Modal & popover page definition in product & ux design

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What is a Modal & popover page in design?

In a SaaS (Software as a Service) web application, a modal is a content container that appears on top of the main application interface. It interrupts the user's interaction to present important information or require an action before the user can return to the app. Modals are generally used for tasks like confirming a user's decision (such as deleting a file), collecting input data with forms (like updating personal information), or presenting information that requires the user's immediate attention.

A popover, on the other hand, is a less intrusive content box that shows up when a user clicks or hovers over a specific UI element. Unlike a modal, a popover does not typically prevent the user from interacting with other parts of the application UI. It's often used for giving quick tips (like information tooltips), showing additional options (like a dropdown menu), or displaying brief content (like a preview of a message).

Here's a more detailed breakdown:


  • Used to focus the user's attention on critical information.
  • Usually requires some user action to close, like clicking a button.
  • Can contain text, forms, information, or interactive elements.
  • It overlays the app interface and often comes with a backdrop that dims the background to reduce distractions.


  • Used for providing additional context or information relevant to a particular element.
  • Is a transitory element that can disappear when the user clicks away or completes an interaction with the popover's contents.
  • Because of its size and use, it contains less content than a modal.
  • It's typically positioned close to the element that triggered it to show a clear connection between the two.

Both modals and popovers serve to make the user interface cleaner by temporarily hiding complex interactions or information that doesn't always need to be visible. They are tools to ensure users are not overwhelmed with information and can access additional data or complete focal tasks as needed without leaving their current context.