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I'm sure we're all aware now that when we see a greyed-out button, it either means that 1) we cannot click it, or 2) its current state is off - or false.

In my application, I have a square, which acts as a button, next to a list item. This button, when clicked, will either mark the selected item as Important or Not Important. When you hover over this "button", a tooltip appears.

My question is, what should the tooltip say?

If the button is greyed out, should it say "Important" or "Not Important"?

A grey button indicates a not important item, while a blue one indicates important.

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marked as duplicate by Matt Obee, Erics, Benny Skogberg, Charles Wesley, Izhaki Jan 21 '14 at 23:09

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Similar question with lots of good analysis: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/1318/… –  Luke Jan 17 '14 at 23:04
Thanks for the link, I added my "two cents" to that, too. –  delete this account Jan 17 '14 at 23:09
Note that whatever the tooltip says, the design has to work without it as some users won't see tooltips (they don't move their mouse while deciding what to do, or they are on touch devices where "hover" is not an available paradigm). –  Erics Jan 18 '14 at 10:49
Also, please reconsider using "grayed out" as meaning "in unselected state". Use some other less-vibrant/less-vivid colouring to indicate that. You could have a blue button for selected, a white button outline for not-selected (with black text), and then a light grey button with dark grey text for "this button is disabled, don't bother clicking". –  Erics Jan 18 '14 at 10:52
@Erics that's exactly what it means in this case. If it's unselected, it is not important. If it's selected, it's important. :) –  delete this account Jan 18 '14 at 22:16

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This is an interesting question. I suppose you have three options:

  • (A) Have the tool tip show the current state: Important / Not Important
  • (B) Have the tool tip tell the action: Mark as unimportant / Mark as important
  • (C) Both: Currently Important - Mark an unimportant / Current unimportant - Mark as important

C seems too verbose. If your users are more often looking for information then A might make more sense. If your users are more often taking action then B would make more sense.

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Similar question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/23906/… –  Luke Jan 17 '14 at 23:02

"Mark as important/mark as unimportant" depending on the current state might be a bit more informative and clear.

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This is a good answer and I don't disagree, however I was trying to avoid using "Mark as". –  delete this account Jan 17 '14 at 22:59
You could skip on the tooltip if you use an icon or graphic like an exclamation mark. But without further context or information, it's a bit open-ended. –  flatfootdesign Jan 17 '14 at 23:02
I guess it is a bit open-ended. Thanks for your input anyway. I was thinking of using an exclamation mark, but they are very thin and not very good for touch - unless you want to really concentrate to be able to touch it. –  delete this account Jan 17 '14 at 23:08
No problem. You can get around the thinness of the icon by making the area around it (whitespace) part of the clickable area. –  flatfootdesign Jan 17 '14 at 23:14

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