Tooltips & lightboxes: three-and-thirty works

Tooltips and lightboxes are on-page bits and bytes of contextual information that help the user understand what’s happening or what a term means now. The idea and expectation is that a short pause is needed to absorb what’s here so that what comes next will make more sense.

The three-and-thirty rule of thumb says that you should shoot for providing three seconds time for a user to absorb tooltip information.

lightbox should take up about 30 seconds of your reader’s time. Keep in mind that people normally take a little more time to read a screen than a page, especially if they are learning something new.

(That was the first ten lines of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Did you know that the world over, a “line” of poetry—that is, a few words and a pause—settles in at about three seconds?)*

*Stephen Pinker, The Blanks Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open ye,
Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Technical Documentation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

%d bloggers like this: