A tooltip, also known as screentips or hover help, is an overlay or callout that appears in certain parts of the user workflow on a digital product, containing helpful hints about less intuitive features. An appropriately placed tooltip can provide crucial information at the exact moment the user needs it, and is usually initiated either through mouse-hovering or keyboard-hovering.
What are the advantages of a tooltip?
- Only appear when you want the user to see them, so you can introduce more complex functions at the appropriate time
- Ideal for introducing unfamiliar icons, features, and concepts without taking up permanent space on the screen
- Can capture the user’s attention and point out elements they may have missed otherwise.
What are the disadvantages of a tooltip?
- Users may find them overwhelming if there are too many tooltips at once
- They shouldn’t replace intuitive design
How to optimize a tooltip
- Make sure to user test the initial user experience so you understand what questions users have—and when
- Keep it to one tip at a time so you don’t overwhelm users with too much new information
- Ensure users have the option to close or hide tooltips if they don’t want to interact with them
- Refrain from a tip repeating obvious information or copy that already exists before hovering