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GUI Design: Tooltips

Tooltips are a largely unused, yet potentially powerful resource in a GUI. I’ve noted in previous articles places where tooltips are well used and places where they could have been used to circumvent issues. For this posting I’ve decided to take a look at a few various tooltip implementations. USELESS TOOLTIPS Figure 1 shows the left navigation area of Gmail® by Google®. The display is on the default Mail panel which presents navigation options of Inbox, Buzz, etc. The mouse cursor is hovering over the Inbox option which currently has the additional text (2) following it, indicating that there are 2 unread messages in my Inbox. Note that the tooltip has the identical text as the option itself. Hovering over any one of the nine options from Inbox down to Travel does … Read entire article »

Filed under: Controls, GUI Design, Help, Tooltips

GUI Design: 1…2…3…Help!

In the 1980s when the advance of personal computers put software applications into the hands of administrative assistants, professionals, and students, “Help!” was quickly becoming the most common four-letter word in the English language. There was an obvious need for extensive and clear software manuals, because (for most of us) there was virtually no prior experience that would help us know how (or learn how) to navigate this new world at our fingertips. Desktops or bookcases near the computer usually contained multiple squatty, three-ring binders in thick cardboard sleeves with manuals for operating systems and desktop software. These were invaluable! But they were not always easy to understand and it was often difficult to find someone nearby who could help. These facts, along with the recognition that reading manuals was not always the … Read entire article »

Filed under: GUI Design, Help, Process