User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Gmail uses the pointer on mouse over of a button,

Gamil Search Button

while many of other websites uses a hand

enter image description here

So I am wondering which kind of cursor is more friendly to users (on web applications), or it just doesn't matter?

share|improve this question
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Google has added this differing in hovering feedback to make a visual distinction between navigational elements and action elements in the UI. It's really to distinguish the semantics between actions like Compose a new mail and Open email.

So that is basically the strategy behind the behaviour. The reason however, how they feel that this will improve the user experience, I'm not really sure of.

share|improve this answer
Great point! I knew there was going to be some reasoning behind that! – nimrod Mar 22 '13 at 10:22
@nimrod thanks, I agree with your point also. As far as I'm concerned it's better to be consistent in interactive feedback and use the pointer hovering effect for all interactive elements. I don't really see the benefit behind this strategy to be honest, maybe someone else does? – AndroidHustle Mar 22 '13 at 10:30
ask this yourself: will i be able to open (via middle mouse click or via context menu) the button in another window/tab? if yes, it's navigational. otherwise it's an action button – user39775 Jul 27 '14 at 15:33

I think the hand on hover is as you pointed out very very common metaphor for actions.

I'd say it's part of a users vocabulary, it's what everybody learns when using the web so it makes sense to use it if you want to optimise for usability.

Like @gotson said, visual feedback would also be appropriate.

share|improve this answer

What's important is for the user to get a feedback that will let him know that what he is pointing at can be clicked. Feedbacks can be various:

  • sound (might not be appropriate for a web site, but could make sense in a game, or even in Flash/Silverlight applications)
  • visual alteration, either of the mouse cursor (as you pointed out), or of the button itself (changing the background color, embossing the button, underline links...)
  • vibration (cannot be applied in this particular context, but still is a valid feedback - would be better used in Console games, using the vibrating gamepad)

If you look closely at the google search button, it will change color when you hover it (even though the change is not that noticeable).

Normal Google search button:

normal Google search button

Hovered Google search button:

Hovered Google search button

share|improve this answer
vibration and sound? Seriously? I would be pretty annoyed if everytime I hover a button a sound goes off! – nimrod Mar 22 '13 at 9:01
Look at the Starcraft 2 launcher by Blizzard, when you hover the 'Play' button it makes a sound and the button changes color. That's something quite normal in games. Vibration is something common in console games, since the gamepad can vibrate. I agree that the correct feedback needs to be chosen depending on the context. – gotson Mar 22 '13 at 9:11
Fair point. I think the context is web though. – nimrod Mar 22 '13 at 9:14
Indeed, I pointed this out in the 'vibration' feedback, but the 'sound' feedback could be valid in a Flash application for example, and it would still be considered web. I will edit my post to emphasize on the feedback part. – gotson Mar 22 '13 at 9:17
Point taken. Thanks for explaining! – nimrod Mar 22 '13 at 9:18

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.