Crazy Cursors

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Since mouse cursor is an essential element of user interaction, designers rarely risk to modify its presentation. Usability might keep you away from using experimental solutions in practice, however creative solutions and experiments are worth consideration and always nice to look at. In today’s part of our Monday Inspiration series we’d like to showcase some examples of unusual approaches used for design of… well, mouse cursors!

In this Flash-based monster-example1 cursor is a central element of the overall design. The mouse cursor is replaced with a (REALLY large) finger tip; the navigation is possible via pointing and clicking the… well, finger on the site section you’ve chosen. Extreme, but it works.

Screenshot2

The idea is actually not new. Mathilde Aubier’s huge cursor is a little bit older, however the whole interaction is also done with a hand-drawn “hand”.

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However, it can go even further. Usually if you visit a web site you are used to the fact that your mouse cursor has always the same speed when you move it both horizontally and vertically. Apparently, it doesn’t have to be like this. With Powercursor3 not the cursor is replaced or modified, but the background upon which the cursor is moved. The result is that the mouse cursor reacts to your movements according to some laws of physics.

The free Flash toolkit can apply stickiness, roughness, pressure, volume or mass to the areas of the user interfaces — holes, hills, slopes, roughs, walls, whirls, and more effects are possible. All of them change the behavior of the cursor accordingly. What do you think: can it be useful? E.g. if users want to move the cursor to some specific link it might be useful if is automatically drawn to the link itself as far as the cursor is in the neighbourhood of the link.

Believe it or not: your mouse cursor has never been more alive. Examples4.

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Paul Neave6 lets you use the cursor as your personal source of imagination. You can use your cursor as a pencil to draw beautiful figures by simply moving your mouse among the canvas. The results are not always beautiful, but the play of colors is outstanding.

Screenshot7

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The damn pencil on Leo Burnett’s web site9 can make you nervous. To navigate you need to point the mouse cursor to the sections of the site you’re interested in. We’ve showcased the site already10, however the “pencil” approach used on the site definitely deserves a place in this post as well.

Screenshot11

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.jaarvandekleuter.be/
  2. 2 http://www.jaarvandekleuter.be/
  3. 3 http://www.powercursor.com/
  4. 4 http://www.powercursor.com/examples/
  5. 5 http://www.powercursor.com/
  6. 6 http://www.neave.com/imagination/
  7. 7 http://www.neave.com/imagination/
  8. 8 http://www.neave.com/imagination/
  9. 9 http://www.leoburnett.com/
  10. 10 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/10/30/65-excellent-flash-designs/
  11. 11 http://www.leoburnett.com/

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Co-Founder of Smashing Magazine. Former writer, web designer, freelancer and webworker. Sven is now writing Science Fiction Stories.

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  1. 1

    I usually find it very distracting. You start playing with the mouse instead navigating the website. It takes a little while to get over with and start reading the content. Although it is a good idea to make visitors stay longer and explore the site.

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  2. 2

    I saw them all over the net. Some of them are really nice.

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  3. 3

    I still remember where I saw Leo Burnett’s site for the first time: webpagesthatsuck.com ;)

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  4. 4

    I think technology enables to do a lot of cool things; whether the things technology can do is useful or not depends on the application–and that is what it depends on totally; these examples although intriguing seem a bit distracting and not to the point. I think Flash is a cool technology, I think is has some applications it excels at over static content, however, I see Flash as mostly “a cool technology”, now the one thing Flash does have over many technology’s is that a large percentage of people have it installed on machines, if Flash were a “browser” if you will, and you could build a website with it that was searchable and accessible then we might have something, I don’t follow Flash that much so I don’t know if this is in the pipelines, all that I know is that people like there information fast and efficient and to the point–a least from a capitalist perspective–and maybe that is changing with my “oh that looks cool generation” but as for me despite my generation I’m in the party where I think content matters more then flashy presentation, there are a lot of arguments in between that statement, but for the most part in a business minded world where globalization is nothing but inevitable, I still firmly believe that people value content more then flashiness if you will. Take books for instance, all books are inbetween these cardboard covers some of them we consider brilliant books some of them we consider crap, but notice the presentation for the most part of books is the same hardback or paper back or perhaps spiral. So in the end while these sites are “hey look at me” I think for the most part people at this point in time still value the traditional web layout, I don’t think this has been fully realized yet however, as we are just entering a period of time where standards are starting to “be important” again I think this is just an example of business taking precidence overall over flashy presentation.

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  5. 5

    In the end I think whatever enables the fastest business transaction wins!

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  6. 6

    Leo Burnett’s web site is very awesome indeed. It has been around since i discovered flash

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  7. 7

    Chris Papadopoulos

    November 6, 2007 4:59 am

    If your customer can’t figure out how to use the site, all of the cool motion and prettiness in the world isn’t worth a damn.

    I think the Leo Burnett site is pretty horrible from a usability perspective.

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  8. 8

    I don’t understand these disparaging comments toward sites that push the boundaries of imagination in web design. You would choose an advertising designer that uses 2 and 3 column CSS’s with staid color and font selection for his site over one who completely breaks the rules and develops something that hasn’t been seen before? You need to embrace your inner adventurer.

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  9. 9

    it will be good while loading hard content, so while they wait can be play on screen to..Very attractive instead, can do a lot and give some inspiration, thanks

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  10. 10

    part of being a creative web designer is thinking creatively about development, and usability. Leo Burnett’s site is entertaining, but not very smart. Unless you are searching specifically for their site, it is virtually invisible to most internet searches. The intro design is the most interesting part of the entire site.

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  11. 11

    I do agree with some of the comments posted here that there are usuability issues in these sites listed above.. If the user don’t know how and where to click then there is no point in showing your skills in such sites.

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  12. 12

    my finger and my mouse always fight when we are played this thing..but the usability will be low :D

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  13. 13

    The white hand makes my cursor blink in other tabs of firefox

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  14. 14

    Hmmm… Do these things make a site more user-friendly? Look nicer? Function better? Sell more?

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  15. 15

    Agust Gudbjornsson

    November 7, 2007 4:45 am

    I totally agree with Edward on this subject.

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  16. 16

    I have to disagree with this article.

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  17. 17

    Yes please leave the mouse cursor alone..

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  18. 18

    Oh.. Cursor Mania!

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  19. 19

    I reckon these are very inspiring examples of creativity, and are perfectly sensible to use for creative portfolio websites. But when “cursor mania” as someone mentioned, creeps into heavy-content sites, we have a big usability problem.

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  21. 21

    Leo Burnett does not get clients or even provide information to clients from their website. Clients come from personal contacts and responses to RFP’s.

    The site is portfolio to entertain you and for you to explore.

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  22. 22

    It appears that (from this agency’s history and work) that they are always trying to “make a connection with the viewer”, this must be the reason behind their overly elaborate design; to make the site more interactive. However, the connection they are making with me through the site is frustrating and inconvenient. What does this say about their company?

    I must agree as well, the navigation’s usability is quite poor. When attempting to watch videos on their SEVEN+ page, the screen keeps zooming in and out as videos start and end, then the color bars, change color so the one you had your eye on looks different requiring you to hunt for it again. This is highly frustrating. Also their history navigation I found aggravating I have to wait a long time to get to the 2000′s and then I have to keep hunting for the next tiny dot to hover my mouse over, but if I am off by just a little the dot moves away.

    It’s clear though why they are successful. They give the customers what they want, and that is overly eccentric, super flashed out website, that “looks different” or “cool”. I see this all the time as a web developer myself. A concrete company will come to me and ask for a site like this. But why? This site is only useful in the right context, obviously this site is geared toward people who don’t understand much about Advertising, hence looking for an ad agency. They are then drawn in, with the crazy elaborate design that “wows them”. 99 times out of a hundred this is a site you would not want to build for a customer, however it works for an ad agency. It’s a cool idea but usability needs to be improved significantly.

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