I have been meaning to write this for some time now.
Awhile back I noticed something. - Why am I being told to create rollover states for everything on the web? In fact most sites use rollovers, more so than they use active (pressed) states.
Hover around on the web, and you will see that almost anything clickable changes when you rollover or hover on it.
Now move to non-web software and try it. You are actually hard pressed to find hover states outside of the web.
The rollover is all about affordances right? After all, how will you know if you can click on something without it. But the desktop existed long before the web, and we have been doing fine without it. And then you look in the real world, and nothing has such a thing. How do you know you can press a button on your DVD player? It looks like a button. And when you press it, it moves/clicks.
So I know, i know. Hover states do add reassurance of the affordance. But the active (pressed) state does much more than that, as it shows action when you take action. It is very quick, but that adds a ton to people’s belief that they just clicked on something, the active state is software’s nice click feeling you get from pressing a button.
So if you have a website with hover states, and no active states. Do yourself a favor – Change that hover to an active, and you can keep the reassurance of the affordance by changing the cursor icon to a hand on hover.
Need more convincing/reason? iPads, and other touch systems are becoming much more popular, and the hover state will be a thing of the past. If you don’t have an active state, you can expect your touch-centric users to be frustrated.
And before you call me out on this. I know, I know. My sites doesn’t use active states. My site is old… I didn’t know much better. And I didn’t even make this blog theme =)