Stack Overflow's Revelatory Tool-tips

July 9, 2018
Tooltips

Collaboration is a powerful thing. When we work together, share knowledge, and teach others, great things can happen. This is what the internet has been designed for, and websites like Stack Overflow make it possible for any developer or programmer with a coding problem or solution to find answers or answer questions. 

For this community to work, trust is essential. That's why every contributor needs to build a profile to put their situation and skill set into context. But understanding how to create a profile is familiar to some and completely new to others. Stack Overflow makes no assumptions on previous experience and therefore keeps the user fully informed of what is being asked of them at all times.

Why this is really good UX:

  • A crucial part of UX writing is to assume your readers are intelligent, but not to assume that they know the platform or application as well as you. Explaining something—as Stack Overflow does here, with tooltips on each input field—is not annoying or insulting; it is helpful for both novice and advanced users.
  • The security of personal information is a primary concern of users today. When a website asks for personal information outside the norm, it puts users on edge. Here, Stack Overflow uses tooltips to justify each personal question that reassures users and encourages them to answer.
  • To maximize completion rates, Stack Overflow uses multiple choice questions and typeahead search—for the tag selection—to make the form quick and easy to complete.
  • The progress indicator to the left of the form motivates users to finish what they have started by visually showing the users where they are in the form and what's left to do. Known as the goal-gradient effect, a user's motivation to complete something increases as the distance to the end decreases.