What is the general consensus on tooltips for web links? The kind I mean are the ones that pop up on desktop when you hover, but pop up on mobile when you click.

I fist came across these the other day whilst playing with Foundation 5 with a Ghost blog theme. Using their tooltips demoed at


I found them confusing. On desktop it makes sense as you hover and the tooltip appears, you click and the link is followed. But on mobile, I couldn't work out how to click the link. I pressed it and a tooltip popped up. Eventually after much playing I found I could hold the link then chose from the mobile Safari options of Open/Open in new page. The only reason I found this is because I was interested to find out. If I was a normal user I would probably have given up and left the site.

Is this a user experience that the general populace know about and are comfortable with, or is it something that should be avoided. My initial reaction is to avoid these tooltips, but I'm interested in if there are any good reasons to use them.

  • 2
    In most cases tooltips are not good for mobile. Hover doesn't work and click usually goes to a link. I'd advise against putting any critical functionality to your app in a tooltip. Popups may be better.
    – dcclassics
    May 30, 2014 at 3:17
  • I think you answered your own question. They are a desktop OS paradigm and as such don't work as expected on a touch OS.
    – user43251
    Jun 2, 2014 at 9:08

1 Answer 1


On mobile, the discoverability of tooltips are low. Especially if, like in the Foundation example, they're applied to text. It may make more sense to apply the tool tip to an information icon that people are more likely to tap on.

  • I thought as much - I guess I was just after some validation on my thoughts. The links in question (which from the Ghost theme had tooltips) are for the usual social media sites, so I'm just going to rely on the standard icons for mobile and icons and words on desktop. I guess users will recognize these and understand where the links will take them. Jun 3, 2014 at 13:14

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