Good examples of Help Tooltips

7 Nov 2008 - 12:31pm
5 years ago
13 replies
2290 reads
Pawson, Mark
2007

I have been asked to come up with an intuitive help method for tooltips
on a very complex dialog. I immediately thought of a question mark which
the customer clicks on and then drags over the interface, but that idea
has been nixed. Our competitors tend to put question marks next to every
main control which I have argued makes an already complex dialog look
far too busy and also sends a message that says " look out this is
confusing". That is my own personal opinion backed up by only common
sense, so if I am wrong please someone correct me.
Our challenge is a standard one line tooltip will not be enough to
describe the intent of the control(s). At the same time they do not want
to fall back on separate context sensitive help windows opening. They
want the customer to stay in the interface where they are working and
get helpful information as required.
Any good examples out there on the web that I can look at.
Thanks

Mark

Comments

7 Nov 2008 - 1:11pm
Paul Eisen
2007

How about a non-standard, multiline tooltip? Same simple presentation
as the standard tooltip, showing on mouseover with a reasonable
delay. See, for example, the way news story abstracts display upon
rollover of the headline in the CNN news gadget:
http://www.gmodules.com/ig/creator?synd=open&url=http://quotesandlines.googlepages.com/cnn-news-customized-rss-feeds.xmlpt=&context=b&synd=open&lang=en&.lang=en&country=us&.country=us&cat=news&num=24&start=0&cols=4&objs=OVJ,WXnd,Hg,2sQ,UDF,Snj,Rm,Z9t,Ro1h,0KL,1N8,mQx,UF1q,we,3sR,bTw,p,B2eyK,kHK,Wb,Rk,QEC,2sWY,3Yt0&sn=UDF&lang=en

If some users find this too cumbersome, you could include a global
toggle to show or hide them.

Paul

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7 Nov 2008 - 3:31pm
mtumi
2004

You might try a static info panel area instead. A very simple example
would be the way the browser status bar used to show links before you
clicked on them. If you want to see the same thing in use in
something that's probably more complicated than your dialog, check out
the integrated help panel at the bottom of the UI for native
instruments kontakt here:
http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2007/09/13/native-instruments-announces-kontakt-3/

you can go to native-instruments.com and download a trial if you want
to see it in action. or poke around for other picts and videos,
although I think it is clear enough from the picture.

MT

On Nov 7, 2008, at 12:31 PM, Mark Pawson wrote:

> I have been asked to come up with an intuitive help method for
> tooltips
> on a very complex dialog. I immediately thought of a question mark
> which
> the customer clicks on and then drags over the interface, but that
> idea
> has been nixed. Our competitors tend to put question marks next to
> every
> main control which I have argued makes an already complex dialog look
> far too busy and also sends a message that says " look out this is
> confusing". That is my own personal opinion backed up by only common
> sense, so if I am wrong please someone correct me.
> Our challenge is a standard one line tooltip will not be enough to
> describe the intent of the control(s). At the same time they do not
> want
> to fall back on separate context sensitive help windows opening. They
> want the customer to stay in the interface where they are working and
> get helpful information as required.
> Any good examples out there on the web that I can look at.
> Thanks
>
> Mark
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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7 Nov 2008 - 4:11pm
Jennifer Vignone
2008

You could try a tool tip that is a one liner with a link for "more..."
Clicking the "more..." link would extend that tool tip into a box with a
more complete help. Perhaps this could link to a page within a full Help
mechanism, instead of just a bunch of free-floating help screens/bubbles.
I would then have Help separate as a module within the app or a pop-up so
the user doesn't lose context.

Jennifer
Jennifer Vignone
User Experience Design
CIO Technology
245 Park Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10167
212-648-0827
jennifer.r.vignone at jpmorgan.com

"Mark Pawson" <mark.pawson at geomodeling.com>
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11/07/2008 12:31 PM

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Subject
[IxDA Discuss] Good examples of Help Tooltips

I have been asked to come up with an intuitive help method for tooltips
on a very complex dialog. I immediately thought of a question mark which
the customer clicks on and then drags over the interface, but that idea
has been nixed. Our competitors tend to put question marks next to every
main control which I have argued makes an already complex dialog look
far too busy and also sends a message that says " look out this is
confusing". That is my own personal opinion backed up by only common
sense, so if I am wrong please someone correct me.
Our challenge is a standard one line tooltip will not be enough to
describe the intent of the control(s). At the same time they do not want
to fall back on separate context sensitive help windows opening. They
want the customer to stay in the interface where they are working and
get helpful information as required.
Any good examples out there on the web that I can look at.
Thanks

Mark
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7 Nov 2008 - 8:40pm
Jarod Tang
2007

A good helptips is none helptips.

Cheers,
Jarod

On Sat, Nov 8, 2008 at 1:31 AM, Mark Pawson <mark.pawson at geomodeling.com> wrote:
> I have been asked to come up with an intuitive help method for tooltips
> on a very complex dialog. I immediately thought of a question mark which
> the customer clicks on and then drags over the interface, but that idea
> has been nixed. Our competitors tend to put question marks next to every
> main control which I have argued makes an already complex dialog look
> far too busy and also sends a message that says " look out this is
> confusing". That is my own personal opinion backed up by only common
> sense, so if I am wrong please someone correct me.
> Our challenge is a standard one line tooltip will not be enough to
> describe the intent of the control(s). At the same time they do not want
> to fall back on separate context sensitive help windows opening. They
> want the customer to stay in the interface where they are working and
> get helpful information as required.
> Any good examples out there on the web that I can look at.
> Thanks
>
> Mark
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
http://designforuse.blogspot.com/

8 Nov 2008 - 5:01am
Pietro Desiato
2008

What about some info about the control(s) you want to give help for?
Is it a helptip system or a help guide you want to provide? In the
first case, I won't think of too much content: it is not the right
context for a multi-line tip. I like the idea of a "more" link but
I'd think of a different interaction (other than a link inside a
tooltip) in order to not weigh down the tooltip that works when is
light and easily readable.

"Best helptips are no helptips": I do not agree with this just
because sometimes we are asked to solve usability issues generated by
others' UI designs. I don't see why we should provide an help system
if we recognise that the UI is not that natural and easy-to-use ;-)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35373

7 Nov 2008 - 3:16pm
dirtandrust
2008

I'd follow Alan Cooper's advice on this one: Make the interface give
the user data instantly, like the view screen fighter pilots use.

Make a toolbar that gives the user these messages. The user rolls
over a tool and the message toolbar lets him/her know what the button
is for.

Optimally your interface will be like a mouse: it will take 3 seconds
for each button's purpose to become clear, so easy that a child could
run it.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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8 Nov 2008 - 9:37pm
Jarod Tang
2007

> "Best helptips are no helptips": I do not agree with this just
> because sometimes we are asked to solve usability issues generated by
> others' UI designs. I don't see why we should provide an help system
> if we recognise that the UI is not that natural and easy-to-use ;-)

For the legacy design, i agree, it's unavoidable to add helptips
sometime ( or most of the time ).
And what makes more sense is that it may means we can do some partial
redesign of the system, which doesnt takes more energy in some case
(with the help of other product team members).

Regards,
-- Jarod

--
http://designforuse.blogspot.com/

9 Nov 2008 - 10:30am
Susie Robson
2004

An old standard that I seem to recall is to have dotted underline
under some of the words. I don't know if anyone still uses this but
it might work. I have used a small box with a question mark in it
near each item but my pages were not very dense so it worked.

Just a thought.

Susie Robson
Robson Consulting

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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10 Nov 2008 - 2:25pm
Loren Baxter
2007

I wrote an (unintelligible) blog post about an idea for handling this -
having a single button that places a translucent overlay covering the
interface, which has helpful text directly on top of each element. Clicking
anywhere on the UI would then re-hide the translucent overlay. It didn't
get any response, but I still think it's an interesting idea.

http://www.acleandesign.com/2008/07/new-help-paradigm-overlays/

Loren

-----
http://acleandesign.com

On Sun, Nov 9, 2008 at 7:30 AM, Susie Robson <susrobson at aol.com> wrote:

> An old standard that I seem to recall is to have dotted underline
> under some of the words. I don't know if anyone still uses this but
> it might work. I have used a small box with a question mark in it
> near each item but my pages were not very dense so it worked.
>
> Just a thought.
>
> Susie Robson
> Robson Consulting
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35373
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

10 Nov 2008 - 6:57pm
Matthew Taylor
2008

Your gut is right, can you share any more context about the ui?

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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10 Nov 2008 - 10:39pm
cfmdesigns
2004

I agree that ?s all over is very busy. But how about *space* for them
which only gets filled with focus in or hover over a given control?
That would perhaps give nearly the same value with minimal added
clutter. (Perhaps = user test it.)

The first magically appearing ? might be odd, but it would be
learnable by the third or so.

-- Jim
Via my iPhone

On Nov 7, 2008, at 9:31 AM, "Mark Pawson"
<mark.pawson at geomodeling.com> wrote:

> I have been asked to come up with an intuitive help method for
> tooltips
> on a very complex dialog. I immediately thought of a question mark
> which
> the customer clicks on and then drags over the interface, but that
> idea
> has been nixed. Our competitors tend to put question marks next to
> every
> main control which I have argued makes an already complex dialog look
> far too busy and also sends a message that says " look out this is
> confusing". That is my own personal opinion backed up by only common
> sense, so if I am wrong please someone correct me.
> Our challenge is a standard one line tooltip will not be enough to
> describe the intent of the control(s). At the same time they do not
> want
> to fall back on separate context sensitive help windows opening. They
> want the customer to stay in the interface where they are working and
> get helpful information as required.
> Any good examples out there on the web that I can look at.
> Thanks
>
> Mark
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

12 Nov 2008 - 3:19pm
Pawson, Mark
2007

Thanks all for the suggestions. Very enlightening.
To give a bit more context. Many of the help tips they want to
display are concerned with explaining to the customer the science
behind the control as opposed to explaining control X runs Y. The
applications are focused on geological and geophysical modeling and
interpretation. Hence the dialog could have controls that each run a
different simulation algorithm. We want the customer to stay in the
interface while understanding in a brief paragraph the potential
results of each algorithm.
And of course combine all that with the standard help tips for the
purpose of other controls.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35373

11 Nov 2008 - 7:26pm
brandon applefield
2008

The first idea sounds cool, but i can see why it was nixed, as it is
something i've never seen, and it would most likely require help
text to describe how to use the draggable question mark.

i too have to deal with complex pages on a legacy design requiring
multiple tool tips. I think having one question mark with a large
tool tip to describe everything on one page could be a solution which
i have proposed in the past. although it is as elegant as others
suggested, i think it may solve the problem

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35373

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