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Some sites, such as Discord, show little hovering circles over UI features to new users, that they can click to learn about a feature for the first time.

After clicking once, these go away with the fact that they have been read stored as a user preference.

I have Googled all around and I can't find the right nomenclature to refer to these. I would like to look them up in order to get in a better study of them / best practices.

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TLDR: Hotspots

If you're going by these categorizations, which I think you're referring to would be hotspots. But again, without a screenshot, it's hard to be sure, so maybe look these over yourself. These call to attention areas of the UI for new users (or to call attention to new functions and explain them). Appcues defines them as "...a nice alternative to tooltips because they are less invasive to users. They do not open automatically and can be easily ignored...Hotspots may have unique pulsing animations to catch a user’s eye."

These are also all over Slack

Here are a couple of other good resources for researching onboarding patterns. The teardowns are particularly good.

https://www.useronboard.com/user-onboarding-teardowns/

https://www.appcues.com/user-onboarding-academy

  • 1
    Yes, hotspot is it, thanks! Checking out the links. useronboard.com is fantastic! – dthree Mar 30 '18 at 18:40
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well, not sure about those hovering circles, a screen capture would help a lot. But the pattern itself is called onboarding.

User onboarding is the process of improving a person's success with a product or service. This term is often used in reference to software products, and it can be done in a manual or automated way.

User onboarding is not just a “product tour” - it’s the complete experience whereby a user finds success in your application. User onboarding also isn’t just for first-time users. It also applies if you’re onboarding new staff people, or helping returning users get up to speed with changes

You can see some different onboarding patterns here, maybe one of those (probably playthrough or inline hints) will adjust to your description

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I think the term you're looking for is tooltip also known as infotip. Though a number of other techniques can be used alongside this. I know this isn't stack overflow but the library I use intro js, shows some great examples of onboarding.

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Definitely agree with the reference to onboarding from Devin. I'll add that in my work we have referred to them as "Tour Points" but I do not think that there is a common term or label used to describe them.

edit: remembered that Invision calls them Tour Points as wellmy Invision screenshot

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