Buttons on forms - hand cursor?

When styling submit buttons me and a colleague got into a discussion regarding submit buttons. Should they have a hand cursor or the standard cursor?

On one hand: Standard submit buttons do not have the hand cursor, the buttons themselves contain a call to action. However, having a static button without any kind of hover effect, is it obvious from a usability point of view if the cursor doesn’t change?

So, submit buttons or indeed, anything clickable, should they use the hand cursor?

Yes, anything clickable should have a hand cursor, in my opinion. It’s what users expect, and if you don’t do it that way, the chances are they won’t know where to click.


Well, “anything clickable should have a hand cursor” would includes <select> elements too. Not sure if a hand would be best in this case.

If the submit button has the button feel, or if it doesn’t have a plain button feel but the style makes it stand out on hover, I guess it’s OK to keep the standard cursor.

From the UI/UX point of view, creating a confusion about what element is there, by changing the default cursor for it, among other things, that’s less desirable.

But that’s a little contradictory which is my dilemma - changing default behaviour (submit buttons don’t usually have a hand cursor) vs UX consistency (clickable elements having a hand cursor).

I often wonder if normal submit buttons should have a hand cursor. That said, in most (all?) modern browsers, default submit buttons have a OS based hover state.

Links are anchors. A hand is like reaching for that anchor. It’s a web specific cursor.

The form elements (button) are OS specific. You’re trying to make them all web specific. I’d say it’s not consistent UI/UX.

Not quite. It depends on if you have an OS theme, like Luna or Aero, Ambiance or Radiance, Leopard or Lion, that does that. Browsers have platform specific build and they use platform specific classes for form elements.

The ‘standard’ button control already has its own regular OS/Browser shape and area (already distinguishing it as a form control). Typically it’s only “textual” links and labels or none standard form control objects that have the ‘pointer’. The CSS ‘pseudo styled mimics’ usually get highlighting for differentiation.

I’ll note that my Firefox on Gnome has such a slight feedback (hover, has also the outline on focus) that it’s almost not there. That’s totally not cool, but it’s never the fault of the web page designer… it’s my Windowing system’s version of Firefox.

I think if you have a non-subtle hover/focus reaction on submits you can leave the cursor non-hand, consistent with other submits, and users get the required feedback (hey I can click this).

Thanks. I think the consensus here is: There should be some kind of feedback. Either the hand or a hover effect. I think hover effects are more appropriate, but I guess if that’s not appropriate the hand cursor should be the fallback. Thanks!

That said, going back to the mid-late 90s, from memory submit buttons were just ugly grey boxes with no hover change at all. Though this was likely a win9x thing. Of course we’ve moved on since then :slight_smile: