Hover is dead. Long live hover.

Two and a half years ago, I was doing user research sessions on a desktop web product that allowed readers to comment on a news article inline. We’d observed tons of people of all ages and kinds who would scan large bodies of text by hovering over each line with their mouse cursor or even by highlighting the text they’d already completed. With this in mind, we decided make our product invisible until a person hovered over any given paragraph. It worked perfectly… Until one man brought in the original Surface Pro.

The Surface Pro is equipped with a touchpad (with USB support for a mouse) and a touchscreen. The man would read the article like he would on a tablet or a phone, flicking his finger along the screen to scroll.

This meant he couldn’t use our product. He’d never see it. Even if he knew where to look, he physically couldn’t make the UI appear.