I've been to some sites lately which have some pretty fantastic
cursors. You probably know what I'm talking about - cursors that
have little balls dangling from them, look like a heart or
consist of a string of letters waving as if in the wind.
The first time I saw these cursors I thought, "that's pretty
cool, I wonder how they did that?" The answer was obvious since
the cursor required the download of a special Internet Explorer
I see these cursors all over the place. I visit a lot of sites,
and many of them have some strange or not-so-strange cursors
running. Some sites even have a different cursor on each and
What's the problem with this? Well, on a personal home page,
nothing. In fact, a nice, cute cursor on someone's page about
his wife or dog is a great touch, adding some special nicety
which makes the pages stand out. A little waving flag on
someone's page about their Vietnam War experiences is great, and
a heart can make a romantic page really stand out.
But on a professional site these cursors tend to be, well,
tacky. They turn away visitors for a number of reasons. These
don't matter that much on a personal site - after all, most
people create personal sites for the satisfaction, not to make
money or get a high hit count.
Professional sites are different. You want your visitors to stay
and read your message, comprehend your data or buy your
products. Under these circumstances it is critical that you do
nothing to chase anyone away.
Some of the drawbacks of special cursors include the following.
1) Including special cursors requires the download of a plug-in.
This has a tendency to turn away visitors right away. People are
afraid, rightly so, of anything that pops up a security alert,
and attempting to download an ActiveX control will do exactly
2) Most of these animated cursors will only work on Windows and
only in the Internet Explorer browser (and often only the newer
versions at that). This limits the people who will enjoy the
3) The cursor plug-ins tend to be resource hogs. By this I mean
they use memory and CPU time that could be better used by other
functions of your system. I have noticed definite performance
issues when I examine web pages using some of these cursor
4) Special cursors are not looked upon favorably by professional
webmasters. You will find that many of the awards programs on
the internet have special clauses in the criteria which disallow
sites with these cursors.
5) Too much moving data on the screen tends to be very annoying
to visitors. If you have a strange cursor and a few animated
GIFs you are really pushing your visitors tolerance to the limit.
6) The cursors get in the way of your message. As they move
around, the cursors cover text or graphics that you want your
visitors to see.
7) The focus of the cursor is obscured by the animation. On the
standard cursor it is obvious where the cursor is pointing
because it is an arrow or bar. On a waving flag or a heart, it
is not so obvious and tends to be confusing. Confused visitors
tend to hit the back button very fast.
8) Worst of all, these cursor plug-ins often act as spyware.
What's that, you ask? Spyware is a program which examines your
surfing habits (among other things) and reports it back to some
location. What these free cursor plug-ins really do is build up
a history of usage and surfing patterns of anyone who uses them.
This information is then sold to advertisers.
9) In addition to recording the habits of web surfers, the
cursors also record the hits to web sites which use that
technology. This allows the cursor companies to gather even more
data which can, in theory at least, be sold to advertisers.
For these reasons, my recommendation is to simply avoid strange
cursors on all but personal home pages.
About the author:
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets.
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