An increasingly prevalent problem in this age of smart webpages (dubbed “Web 2.0” by the marketing department) is the visualization of inline links. That is, links that when clicked immediately change part of the page you’re looking at, as opposed to slowly loading a whole different page.
This picture of Gmail shows how it works right now. “Compose Mail” is an inline link. The cursor is a traditional hyperlink “handcursor”. What’s there to tell us, except experience, that this link doesn’t open a popup window or reloads the entire page?
Maybe the solution is as simple as not changing the cursor. Since the effect of clicking the link is immediate, is there any reason to distinguish the link from a pushbutton or a scrollbar, whose effects are also (usually) immediate? It’s only the introduction of the slow hyperlink that required a cursor change. The Hand is now synonymous with “click once and wait a while”.
It would certainly be easy to implement, as the CSS is plain (
cursor: default;). Is this the octopus in the corner, or just plain dumb?