Can “modality” mean “having modes?”

A widget has one button. This button performs different functions depending on the widget’s mode at the time the button is pressed.

Can this be said to have modality, or a modal design?

Answer

This quote from Jeff Raskin’s book, The Humane Interface (courtesy of wikipedia) gives a good definition for “modal” in this context:

An human-machine interface is modal
with respect to a given gesture when
(1) the current state of the interface
is not the user’s locus of attention
and (2) the interface will execute one
among several different responses to
the gesture, depending on the system’s
current state.

In your case, the “gesture” is “clicking on the widget’s button”, so the word “modal” is applicable here.

In general English usage the word “modality” means “having or related to modes” (for instance one might refer to “the modality of the music” about modal music), so your example would technically be correct. However, since the word “modality” has a specific different meaning within the context of user interface design, you might be advised to express yourself differently avoid confusion.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Jay , Answer Author : psmears

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