Given the website is fast and responsive: do we still need an active/pressed state for a button? Can we afford to have the pressed state similar to the hover state, because a website is so fast you hardly get to see the pressed state anyway?

So far Google only came up with how to design a good active/pressed state, but I don't read why we need it. I saw a question similar to mine asked 11 years ago, but it lacks arguments. Hopefully we can ask it again and gain some shared insight.

I can imagine that if a website is slow, it's a good user experience to inform the user the action is registered. But typically, the website I work at is blazing fast. Even when I throttle my internet connection, it still remains fast. So besides speed, why would we need a pressed state? Improved accessibility? Required for screen readers?

  • in mobile you don't have hover. Same goes for voice activated commands and screen readers, and this state is incredibly useful for head-controlled input devices.
    – Devin
    Aug 15, 2023 at 21:22
  • Well, when I connect my mouse to my phone or ipad to a keyboard/mouse, I have a bunch new interaction possibilities and you do have a hover state. It's just very rare. This isn't the type of comment I'm looking for, but thanks! Aug 28, 2023 at 11:49
  • that's because the mouse is "inside" the device, so to speak, so it allows the same interactions that any other device since your device can understand what's going on. But your fingers are "outside" the device, so the device can't "see" what are you doing.
    – Devin
    Aug 28, 2023 at 15:41

1 Answer 1


A button is active as long as it is pressed. Even when most click/tap actions are fast, some can be slow. This can be because of a hesitation or poor motor skills. Hesitation happens out of uncertainty and happens maybe more than you can imagine. Someone might hesitate due to a decision to be made: "do I really want to click/do/buy this?". While the button remains pressed, the click or tap action can often be cancelled by moving the pointer or finger away from the button. Or one can hesitate due to ambiguous design: "Can I click/tap this, is this a button?" which can be discovered by pressing and holding the button (especially on touch screens where there is no hover state).

Another reason for an active state is that designing for error is considered good practice in UX. It means that the design accounts for situations where things are not going so well. How do you want your users to experience a big delay, an error or a crash? When the system or network is slow for a few seconds and the button is still active, you definitely want your user to notice or be reminded that is was pressed. Maybe it's even a good idea to show a spinner when the delay turns out to take longer, just to give a notice that something is happening, and show a notification and "try again" button when it took too long and probably won't finish. Designing for error can be done on multiple levels and having an active state is part of it.

Even when you are still not convinced an active state would be useful. It doesn't harm to have one either, right?

  • this: "It doesn't harm to have one either, right?"
    – Devin
    Aug 15, 2023 at 21:16
  • I can see some interesting arguments in the second paragraph. Thanks! I don't agree with "doesn't harm to have on either". That's the wrong take. Design is done when we can't remove anything. We must think about arguments why something is necessary to show. If we use "it doesn't harm either", we'll end up with a UI that we can not explain or defend Aug 28, 2023 at 11:52
  • I totally agree with you that it is a bad idea to design something just because it doesn't harm either. If that is how it read, then that is my mistake. Why I wrote that is because I gave valid reasons why to design the focus state and was a little concerned by your question that even those reasons maybe wouldn't convice you. I was wrong again it seems. 😉 Thank you for accepting the answer.
    – jazZRo
    Aug 28, 2023 at 12:35
  • Design is subjective and everybody has his/her own opinion on it. You either agree or disagree, but saying someone is wrong is not the right way to discuss design. It's either give or take. Design isn't about removing until it can't be removed, we mustn't think about arguments as to why something is necessary to show. Design can be either simple or complex. It doesn't harm to have one in the design system, where the buttons are crafted for all interpretations. Whether you want to use it for users, is up to you and the users.
    – Ivan
    Sep 7, 2023 at 13:25

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