I'd like the tooltip to provide extra information as to why the button appears disabled. Is it a good idea to do this? The tooltip may get slightly hidden by the tapping finger...

tooltip appears after tapping a disabled button

  • A lot of UI toolkits won't even deliver mouse events to disabled widgets! I think you should if you can.
    – J. Dimeo
    Feb 22, 2015 at 14:25
  • Thanks for your reply. It's a mobile app, so there won't be any mouse events but rather tap events. Feb 22, 2015 at 14:56

1 Answer 1


Yes. This is a great idea!

Disabled buttons can be very frustrating to users if there is no clear indicator of why they are disabled. This can result in all kinds of negative behavior including frustration, abandonment, or bad anchoring where the user assumes the button is not a control or doesn't work (a particular risk with flat design where buttons are not always easily distinguished, as in your layout above).

It may be awkward to figure out where to place and style the tooltip, but this is a great example of thoughtful and empathic UX design. One thing you may consider is an auto-fadeout of the tooltop after a few seconds, so the user doesn't have to actively dismiss it.

  • I don't know how I feel about this. If a tool tip comes up for a deactivated button, is it really deactivated?
    – UXerUIer
    Feb 22, 2015 at 23:12
  • @Majo0od absolutely! It's a classic UX case...disabling a control is not the same as disabling feedback. For example, if you try to start a car while in reverse you will get feedback (e.g. beep or flash) showing that start is disabled. If you try to select a lower floor in an elevator that is going up, it may flash the button to acknowledge the press but disallow you from selecting it. In both these cases, feedback is very helpful because it acknowledges the user's interaction while indicating the control is disabled.
    – tohster
    Feb 22, 2015 at 23:18

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