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Everybody loves a bit of interaction with a website. Although scrolling experiences aren't for everyone, mouseover effects have been established for a long time.

As creative hover states feature in my design trends to watch out for in 2016 (for the creativity they afford an otherwise increasingly restrained front-end developer), I decided to roundup some of my favourite examples.

Of course, these are on desktop, where most ecommerce sales occur (for now).

1. American Apparel: artistic fade-to-white

Let's start with an illusory effect from American Apparel. This fading out of content blocks on the homepage does two things to my mind.

It adds a certain mystique (hard to define, I know) but also cleverly disguises those rather inelegant calls to action until the user hovers.

american apparel website

2. American Apparel: Ken doll multicolours

Sticking with the controversial Gen-Y favourite, Apparel confidently deals with products that can come in 30 to 40 colours.

There's definitely an element of fun involved in redressing the model in all the colours of the rainbow.

american apparel product preview

3. Reebok: clever expanded colours

Sneakers that come in different colours are quite hard to merchandise. If every colour is listed separately, it's too much, but if the customer isn't aware of each colour, they might not be turned on to the product.

Reebok innovatively users mouseover to display each colour and further still, then allows a second mouseover to change the colour of the main image. Nicely done.

reebok product preview

4. Pure Fix Cycles: magical glowing bike reveals

A very specific use case for hover states here, and one that works perfectly.

Pure Fix sells glow-in-the-dark bicycle frames, as you can see.

purefix cycles glow

5. Urban Outfitters: models working it

Hover states on photos in category listings have been around for a while, but Urban Outfitters implements them with admirable sass.

urban outfiteers category

6. ASOS: purple cracklers and a flying plane

I love the crackling purple buttons on the ASOS homepage. OK, the plane that flies across the screen in fluorescent green is not a hover state (it's actually a scrolling element) but I had to mention it.

Rarely have I seen free worldwide delivery highlighted with so much panache.

asos homepage

7. ASOS: chunky borders & negative ghosts

Elsewhere (on the Men's content-led category page), content blocks are highlighted with a chunky border on hover.

There's also a cheeky ghost button in here, which switches colour negative when you run over it.

asos men's page

8. Net-a-Porter: clarity in categories and filters

Okay, not a showy example from Net-a-Porter, but the kind of feature that receives a silent nod of appreciation from the UX buff.

Too many filters are unnecessarily fiddly, this one at least tries to help.

net-a-porter menu

9. Ben Sherman: restrained category snapshots

What better way than to demonstrate quietly-confident style than only affording a glimpse of a category image on rollover?

Ben Sherman's approach adds clarity and intrigue.

ben sherman website

10. Reebok: domino menu

I love this. Ecommerce sites with lots of rollover header menu categories can get annoying as content regularly pops down and disorients you.

The domino fall-out of some of Reebok's menus is only a fluorish, but I felt it removed that rather abrupt nature of dropdowns that can annoy.

reebok menu gif

11. Topshop: eyebrow-raising model reveals

More oldie-but-goodie rollover product shots here. You can't deny it adds a real incentive to notice and explore each product.

topshop product listings rollover 

12. Lush: ghost buttons

This is a web design trend from 2014 and 2015 (and set to continue). Lush is the undisputed master of this unobtrusive yet unignorable button style. 

lush email signup

13. All Saints: all about the angles

More product preview hovers. There's something beautifully pragmatic about the way every product here turns at the same angle to reveal how the clothes hang.

This fits very well with All Saints' smart and clean style.

all saints products

14. Urban Outfitters: elegant filter selections

Why choose shading when you can have an elegant rounded outline?

This is Urban Outfitters adding a nice touch to its filters.

urban outfitters filter select

15. Reebok: moody content pods

Reebok's website chooses a limited palette on the homepage, in part to mythologise sport and Reebok's products, allowing the consumer to imagine themselves as a legend (in my opinion).

In keeping with the mood, content blocks darken on mouseover.

reebok content transitions

16. Stella McCartney: negative coloured buttons

A designer touch from Stella McCartney. Simple but very effective.

Interestingly, the use of white boxes with black text, over images, is something I expect to see more of. It looks classy and is a simple solution to the problem of overlaying text.

stella mccartney buttons

17. eBuyer: recommendation previews

From fashion to electronics. Not quite as enjoyable to watch as our previous examples but an important tactic for conversion, nonetheless.

Product add-ons are expanded on rollover, to display spec, price and enlarged photo.

ebuyer product recommendations

18. Marks and Spencer: shoppable magazine

Another design trend is the move from pages to services, i.e. the user does not think of Facebook or Netflix as a collection of pages, merely a service.

Marks and Spencer is not there yet, but I do admire the layout of its Style and Living magazine homepage, which feels like a natural evolution of the glossy mag, allowing you to flick through.

m&s website

19. Walmart: picking out iconography

Yet more sublimely functional GIFs. OK, this type of hover state on menu icons happens everywhere. But that's all the more reason to implement it if it's missing from your site.

Design conventions are the closest the web gets to being intuitive.

walmart iconography

20. Topshop: informative recommendations

Another common element in ecommerce, with product titles, price and customer reviews appearing when rolling over product recommendations.

Every little helps when trying to declutter a product page and focus the user.

topshop recommends mouseover

21. Boohoo: zooming content holders

These content holders feed off mouseovers and grow in size (more accurately an image zoom).

I'm not sure this effect did much for my concentration, and I did start to feel queasy after watching this GIF for 20 seconds.

boohoo zoom mouseover 

22. Missguided: the 'reverse ghost'

Well, this 'add to bag' button is certainly a little more refined than the jumper in question.

It's the reverse of a ghost button, becoming 'transparent' on rollover and encouraging that all-important click.

boohoo add to bag button

23. ASOS: product quick view or wishlist

Lastly, this is a fairly common bit of micro-UX. Product listings on category pages display 'quick view' and 'save' options on hover.

Again, great for reducing clutter on the page and encouraging interaction through dynamism.

product quickview or wishlist - asos

Ben Davis

Published 21 December, 2015 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

957 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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Jon Bezalel,

Nice article, Ben. We published our own little tongue-in-cheek piece on mouseover states recently: ‘The Top 5 Celebrity Inspired CTAs’ http://www.wearesupernatural.com/2015/11/11/5-celebrity-inspired-ctas/ - Enjoy!

about 1 year ago

Mark Selwyn

Mark Selwyn, eCommerce and Multi-Channel Retail Consultant

"Reebok innovatively users mouseover to display each colour and further still, then allows a second mouseover to change the colour of the main image. Nicely done."

Is it? Hiding the other colours and the call to action until the user does something that he doesn't know he needs to do? Maybe the user will think its a catalog site that he can't purchase on. Or that its out of stock as there is no add to basket button.

about 1 year ago

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Llara Geddes, UX Designer at Tayburn

@mark - and not that innovative - Nike do the exact same thing.
Shame so many examples here are the same thing - multiple ghost/reverse buttons and product shots changing on hover.

about 1 year ago

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