Neven Mrgan notes an inappropriate use of modal alerts in Amazon Mobile:
When you view an item in the Amazon app and tap the button to add it to your wish list, it comes back with this:
alert, n an alarm or warning, esp. a siren warning of an air raid.
It’s really not that big a deal that I added an item to my wish list. There’s no need to lock me into a modal dialog. Just add the item and move on.
Neven’s right, of course, but as I clumsily observed on Twitter, this alert abuse is in stark contrast to Amazon’s web design, in which they’re usually great at not bothering the user with needless shrill error messages. For example, when you add an item to your Wish List from the website, this is one possible outcome:
I would change the icon to be more btw and less omg, but otherwise, see how polite that is? Instead of interrupting me to point out that I asked for something dumb, Amazon helpfully did something else that better matched what I probably wanted in the first place. It’s like mistakenly asking for an extra fork with your ice cream and having the waiter just go ahead and bring an extra spoon, rather than needlessly correct you.
We expect that sort of intelligent interpretation in human/human interaction, but in human/computer interaction it’s so vanishingly rare that when it actually happens, nerds write blog posts about it. Ta-da.