I have a list with many items, something like a row, some icons and text are clickable but not the entire row. Would a hover effect confuse users ?

EDIT: Actions on the row are edit and delete.

  • I had a question regarding this subject a few months back. You can probably find some good information regarding this question there. Jun 4, 2012 at 14:16
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    @ghislaineguerin Are there any actions available on the row as a whole? Such as open, edit, etc?
    – GotDibbs
    Jun 4, 2012 at 15:22
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    Sites do this quite often for readability; hover over this comment to see an example. As long as the cursor doesn't change it should be fairly clear it's not a clickable item. Just keep it's apparent "clickability" low
    – Ben Brocka
    Jun 4, 2012 at 16:37
  • Also be aware that hover effects are not accessible, so also depending on your audience should be a factor.
    – Kyle Mirro
    Jun 4, 2012 at 16:41

3 Answers 3


Changing the color when hovering the line in terms of row highlighting can support the readability, especially if the line is long and contains lots of information. I think it's a good thing to do.

Does it confuse users? As long as the cursor only changes on clickable links users shouldn't get confused. However, I'd implement it (even in a quick prototype) and test it with a bunch of users to see their reaction to verify this assumption.


On mouse hover you can use a dashed line under the label, also you need to maintain the consistency in color to represent this. And you need to check the call out which comes should not distract the user to see other information.

And finally if the information is more and it is like contextual then use the icons. You need to manage the page intelligently to come over the distraction caused by these actions for the user. Hope this will give you some idea


Hover effects on items with actions (e.g. buttons) are pretty common (e.g. used in Windows and in this site (text formatting buttons)).

To prevent confusing with links, you should make sure the effects are not similar.

E.g. you could add a underline and change the text color as a hover effect for links and change the background as an effect for buttons. For text that is clickable yet not a link (e.g. the title of a tab in this site and edit and tag actions) you could change the text color without adding an underline.

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