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I want to provide a short description for each criteria in a search filter. Would it be confusing to display a popover when the user clicks the label instead of changing the state of its checkbox?

I'd rather avoid having an info dot for every single checkbox.

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Is this desktop or mobile? Either way this seems like unexpected behavior, but your alternatives are different on each platform –  Ben Brocka Apr 4 '12 at 16:01
    
Ah yes, desktop. –  Aaron Kleid Apr 4 '12 at 16:03
    
Yes, it's confusing because you're introducing unexpected interaction. When I click a label next to a checkbox I expect the checkbox change state. –  dnbrv Apr 4 '12 at 16:06
    
You could use hover/tooltip instead. Or (?) icons as the click target. –  peteorpeter Apr 4 '12 at 16:24
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Checkboxes should be used to change settings, not to make things happen. If I understand correctly, you're proposing using the box itself to change the state and using the label as a click-tip. I see the following problems with your proposal:

  • In contrast with a ? icon, it is not clear at all that clicking the label will display the tip.
  • You are effectively reducing the click zone, which means that your users will take more time to change the box's state.
  • If they don't know what each criterion means, they will have to click on all labels till they find what they want. However, this is also a problem with ? icons, in which case a tool-tip (where you just hover over the icon) could be better.

My suggestion is to change the wording of each criterion, so that it is clear what exactly will be filtered when the user clicks on the checkbox without the user having to dig for descriptions.

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I'd suggest to show an explanatory popover AND toggle the checkbox. The wording could describe what happened (i.e. different messages for activation and deactivation). Further, you could include a "don't show again" option for user that know what the interface is doing.

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