I'm trying to think of the term that describes the design pattern of placing instructional text about a new feature inside a popover. It's like a coach mark, yet not in the traditional sense with a dark translucent overlay and with the text in a "casual" font, and it's not really an on-boarding experience, because the user may not be new, but the feature is. Sometimes such a popover could be the first of several for a tour or tutorial, but it doesn't have to be.

Does it have a name? It's driving me crazy! Thanks!

New Info:

I've found and example of Google doing it, but tweaked it to fit what I'm looking for. What do you call the design pattern that describes what you see when a popover appears on page load (not hover or click) that describes a new feature?

Instructional popover pattern?

  • so you are or are not talking about this: nngroup.com/articles/mobile-instructional-overlay Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 16:29
  • It's similar to an instructional overlay (or coach mark), but there isn't an overlay on top of the entire screen that puts it in shadow. It's just a single tip that appears on load. I've updated my original post with an image.
    – Michelle
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 23:28

3 Answers 3


You rightly call the process as user onboarding. There are many ways to do onboarding where tool-tips or balloon-tips are most common for web applications or desktop applications. In contrast, coach marks are used in Mobile devices.

Whitney Hess defines it as:

Onboarding is the process by which you can help users overcome the cold-start problem a >blank profile, an unfamiliar interface, a general feeling of “what the heck do I do next?”

Reference: http://uxmag.com/articles/onboarding-designing-welcoming-first-experiences

It does not really has to be an introduction for first time users. It can be shown when you have introduced a new feature in the application and you need to aware the user of that very new feature (or it could be a series).

A perfect example for website is Google Mail. It lets you know whenever there is a new feature added to your inbox view via balloon tips.

These balloon tips are not centered on the user screen since these are not popup alerts while these actually give direction to the user by pointing a certain location on the screen.


This might be too simple/general, but are you just thinking of a "tooltip?"

  • Yeah, I think that's too simple/general. It's very similar to a tooltip, but I find tooltips to traditionally be activated on hover, sometimes on click. And tooltips usually are very succinct and don't contain links or buttons. If one had more info and maybe a link/button, I'd call it a kind of popover. I've updated my original post with an image example of what I'm after.
    – Michelle
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 23:35

According to Optimizely, "Guiders are a user experience design pattern for introducing users to a web application."


  • Yeah, so this is an example of what I'm talking about, except this is the name of a Javascript library, and not necessarily the name of the design pattern. When I view the search results for "UI pattern 'guider'", I don't get the impression this is the popular term.
    – Michelle
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 23:46

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