Was it the first tooltip (or screentip as Microsoft called it) that showed up when you hovered over toolbars in Word for Win95? Was it in 1991 with System 7 Baloon Help? Was it before those? In a game maybe? I don’t really know, and please comment if you do so I can update the date. But regardless of when the technique of revealing new UI when the mouse pointer was hovering over a particular region, today I am declaring that technique officially dead.
When we first started designing software for touch UI devices (namely iOS devices) I often forgot not to rely on hover as a technique for revealing more UI. Over time I remembered to make sure not to use hover in the designs for iOS. But still relied on it in web designs. But over the last two days I’ve been designing a web app. And I know it’s going to be used on touch devices, so what’s the point of relying on hover. I’m no longer using hover (other than for possible minor reinforcement of what’s clickable) in any apps we create.
And honestly, it’s a shame. I loved hover. It was an awesome relief valve. A great way to get shit off of the screen that didn’t need to be there until that one particular moment. Or maybe, I just used it as a crutch to remove stuff but not really remove it cause I didn’t have the courage to just say no.
Should there be some attempt at a replacement on touch devices? Some proximity thing? I doubt it. Sounds clunky.
Either way, hover is now dead. I’m laying a bouquet of virtual flowers by its tombstone.