Does anyone have any recommendations for designing a (non-web) application for use with a trackball instead of a mouse? If you know of any guidelines, standards or just your own experience in this area I would be grateful to hear from you!

So far I've gathered that pointer movement must be minimised, as the trackball is quite awkward to move - so I'm looking at moving / duplicating my navigation buttons so the pointer doesn't have to be moved further than necessary, and ensuring the user can use the keyboard as an alternative where possible.

(I know there are various trackballs out there and not all may be awkward, but I need to cater for specific existing hardware..)

2 Answers 2


How about not using the pointer at all but switch controls directly as the user scrolls.

So by example if your application has two buttons horizontally in a row and an input down below scrolling left and right will toggle between the buttons and scrolling down will toggle between the input and the last button selected.

I remember to have seen this on public kiosk software.

  • Thanks sc911, that's a good idea. I don't remember seeing this before so my only reservation would be whether it's surprising to the users, but it's definitely worth considering.
    – kati
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 8:37

A trackball is not that much different to a mouse.

I know people who use a trackball (mainly because they do not have the desk space for a mouse) and they are just as accurate as a mouse user.

It might take a little bit longer to be proficient with a trackball, however the behaviour will become second nature quite quickly. The software to support trackballs gives the users a lot of control over its sensitivity, so moving around the page can be very efficient.

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