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I am working on a program that primarily handles reports in the form of tables. These tables contain actions that can be performed on multiple items simultaneously (bulk actions). The bulk action buttons are grayed out when none of the items are selected; when one or more items are selected, the button automatically becomes active. To inform the user of the reason for the grayed-out state, a small tooltip is displayed above the inactive button with the message, "None of the items is selected. Please select items first to perform the action."

I have received feedback indicating that the tooltip may not be visible enough, a concern I believe can be easily addressed by increasing the font size of the tooltip. Additionally, some users do not intuitively hover their mouse over the button, which results in them not seeing the tooltip and subsequently not understanding why the button is grayed out.

I am unsure how to solve this problem—specifically, how to make it more obvious to the user that they need to select objects for the action button to become available (ideally - without having to hover over the greyed-out buttons). Do you have any suggestions or recommendations?

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  • Is is hard to comment about a visual design question without seeing any screenshots. I would say that if something is not visible enough then you can increase the size of the tooltip. You can also design the data table so that both single and bulk actions are driven using the same buttons, so that there won't be confusion by the user.
    – Michael Lai
    Mar 27 at 23:26

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