Ok, let say u developing an application, there are a lot of widgets on it like (CheckBox, RadioButton, Button, List....)

Sometimes the name of widgets telling what it is about. Ex: There 2 radiobuttons & Its name Business or Personal

o Business      o Personal

Of course the user will understand he has to choose either Business or Personal

But there is a checkBox named "Quick View" next to it, then the user will not understand what "Quick View" mean?

To solve this I often use setTooltip ("If quick view is checked then .....") in java, ie when user mouse over the check box, a little box popup explain what it is about. However, if i do that then i worry that the little box will hide many other widgets & makes screen crowded.

Other solution is making an explanation panel on top of the application (maybe behind the header), when user mouses over a widget then the explanation will show in that top panel & it won't hide other widgets. But this will be costly cos I need to code a lot while setTooltip already there for us to use.

Can you find a better solution?

  • 1
    If you have to explain the widget with text, it's probably not the best widget to be using and/or the task you are asking it to accomplish is perhaps too complex for it to handle. Ideally, you'd do some more brainstorming and rethink the widget.
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 23, 2014 at 4:59

2 Answers 2


Users often don't understand what a radio button is, they just see a thing that allows multiple selections without giving it a name.

In this case to send the user down two paths there are multiple solutions and it might be the radio button is not the right one if you have to tell them what to do.

To find out if your solution is working you should always try to get in front of humans who might use the final system, preferably before building everything!


Mostly it is not the widget that is confusing but a miss-match between the users mental model and the system model.

i.e. If user knows what to expect from doing a "quick view" operation, then any widget will do.

Sometimes a user has to learn the system terminology. Learning by doing is very common way - i.e. users choose 'quick view'. They see the result and now have clear understanding of the operation of system in this regard. UI should support this exploration without harmful side effects.

When it is a user domain item on the UI (e.g. a business operation) then the UI should present the entity or action in a way that matches the users mental model. No learning or misunderstanding should happen.

Having text to explain a UI is what I'd see as a "UX smell" (similar idea to Code smell). It may be right thing to do on occasion, but more often it is symptom of larger scale flaw.

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