Custom cursors are a great example of progressive improvement in design. You start with a simple user interface (UI) for small, touch-based devices. From there, larger devices allow for more bells and whistles to be included.
For users with desktop and laptop computers, cursor effects can add an element of fun. They can also be tied to branding. Consider a Star Wars themed website that uses the iconic Lightsaber as a cursor. The possibilities are interesting, to say the least.
We scoured CodePen in search of cool cursor effects. Here are eight code snippets that showcase the creativity of web designers.
The Different Cursor States by Zack Hoherchak
Before creating some cool effects, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different cursor states. Hover over the examples here and see how the CSS
cursor property works. This alone can help improve the usability of clickable elements.
See Curse Pen Cursors by Zack Hoherchak
Neon Cursor Paths by Kevin Levron
This brightly colored cursor track may not be available for all types of websites. But in the right setting (say, a portfolio), this effect could provide some high-tech fun. The slick animation and color transitions are sure to grab the user’s attention.
Check out the ThreeJS Pen Toys – Neon Cursor by Kevin Levron
Screen Text Cursor Spotlight by Caroline Artz
Check out the Pen Spotlight Cursor Text Screen by Caroline Artz
Ink Cursor by Ricardo Mendieta
This effect speaks to the ability of cursors to enhance branding. Imagine using this ink splatter cursor on a writer’s portfolio or even in a print shop. It’s also restrained compared to some of the more outlandish effects out there. This makes it more suitable for business.
See the Pen Ink Cursor by Ricardo Mendieta
Circle Cursor with Blending Mode by Clement Girault
This is a smart implementation of CSS that improves usability. By using the
blend-mode property, the cursor changes color based on the content of the page. This can improve the visibility of the element against different backgrounds.
Check out the Circle Pen cursor with blending mode by Clement Girault
Mouse Cursor Pointing to CTA by Aaron Iker
Are you Seriously want to draw a user’s attention to a specific area? This fragment contains a cursor arrow that rotates to continuously indicate a call-to-action point. It’s a neat little trick that could be just the thing to spice up a hero’s field or other important connections.
See the Pen Mouse cursor pointing cta by Aaron Iker
Interactive Custom Cursor at hb
What if a cursor could contextually adapt based on the type of content you’re navigating? That’s the idea behind this piece. The pointer is a circle by default. But hover over a link, and it morphs into a rectangular outline. It also adheres to the navigation elements in the page header.
See the Custom Interactive Pen Cursor with hb
CursorGesture by Adam Kuhn
Holiday celebrations are a great excuse to use cursor effects. For example, Halloween offers a range of possibilities – such as this spooky ghost. It’s festive, but the translucent color means it won’t distract too much from the content of the page. Also, notice how it reacts to the speed of your cursor movements.
See the Pen Cursor by Adam Kuhn
Cursor Effects Can Be A Powerful Design Tool
A custom cursor can be as impactful as any trick in a designer’s toolbox. The above clips have the power to transform a website and create a specific mood.
But as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. And many cursor effects can take too long. That hurts usability – not to mention accessibility. Therefore, it is wise to be thoughtful about where and how we apply them. Still, the right effect can go a long way.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our CodePen collection for a full spectrum of cursor effects.