SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: [Sigia-l] Rollover Question (Web 2.0)
Re: [Sigia-l] Rollover Question (Web 2.0)
Having worked mostly on 'shrinkwrap' software projects (Mac Office
and Apple Keynote), I've come to distrust the combination of icons
plus tooltips. Together they indicate that the product design has
gone function-happy. Instead of constraining the set of available UI
controls to (controls useful in the current context) + (globally
useful controls), the designer has just thrown EVERYTHING on the
screen and forced it to fit by hammering the resulting UI imagery
into a paste.
If you limit the available active UI elements to those that pertain
to the user's current context/task, you can reclaim a LOT of screen
real estate. Along the way, you can also stop relying on cryptic
icons and teeny tooltips. You can actually tell the user
what's going on now and what to expect next in a paragraph of plain
language (which might be required for seldom-used functions). At the
very least, designing toward an uncluttered interface gives you the
freedom to provide icon imagery that is sufficiently detailed to
suggest the outcome of clicking on said icon.
IMO, don't waste your time on tooltips until you've done whatever you
can to reduce the number of controls the user must choose from to the
absolute minimum required for their current task, plus those required
to switch tasks.
Now, back to the main point -- rollovers:
* Rollovers and menus *
If you're talking about using rollover effects for dropdown menus,
then they're fairly innocuous -- IF you display the non-rollover
control area as a recognizable menu bar. Almost all users will
recognize the menubar idiom and will expect something menu-ish to
happen when they interact with a menu bar.
However, dropdown menus that activate on hover are notoriously hard
to navigate, because they have a tendency to disappear if the user
happens to move even 1 pixel outside the bounds of the current menu
sub-element. (There's probably a way to fix this, via a timer or a
transparent menu background, but I haven't seen a solution in the wild.)
* Rollovers and disjointed text areas *
This is my preferred alternative to tooltips, because you can set
aside a single large-ish area for explanatory text. You can actually
make the text discoverable, readable, visually enjoyable and
accessible. Traditional tooltips are none of the above.
On Sep 29, 2006, at 5:40 AM, David ((Heller)) Malouf wrote:
> I think of tooltips as guiding "learnability".
> I think it nearly impossible to come up with icons that are
> meaningful to
> Tooltips have reached the point of ubiquitous convention for many
> persona types (not all), so, using them to aid in learning what
> icons are
> totally makes sense to me.
"The only people who value your specialist knowledge are the ones who
already have it." - William Tozier
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