Web application interfaces are getting more complex with every passing day. It’s more content than the restrictions of a screen can encapsulate. To deal with this, we must break the content down into pieces that are displayed according to the user’s interactions. This is where animation plays an important role.
Animations are especially useful when it comes to displaying new content, giving feedback for interactions, complementing written content, and informing the status of requests.
Displaying new content
Whether it’s an informational modal or an options menu, when components are displayed in response to an action (ex: a button that can be clicked), the response should not be abrupt. Applying a smooth transition helps the brain to process the change, creating a visual connection between the previous state and the current state. This technique makes sure the user understands the path from one display to another, and how their actions are related to the transition between states.
Giving feedback for an interaction
We expect feedback for every action we perform. That’s part of being human. It’s no different when it comes to applications — the user expects feedback. When hovered over, we can indicate that a button is actually a button or that a form field is invalid by playing with color transitions and icons. The fact is, your client’s experience will be undermined if your website’s elements don’t respond to the user’s interactions in a clear and objective way.
Complementing written content
Using animations is one of the best ways to retain a user’s attention. It’s no coincidence that most internet advertisements are done this way. Generally, this is a very helpful feature. A good example is tutorials that guide the user step-by-step using beautiful transitions that exhibit each part of the application. Another option is to use animated notifications to alert the user when something has happened.
However, there are many cases where animating an element can just distract the user without providing relevant information — which is exactly the case with advertisements. The rule: never add an animated element that doesn’t contribute anything to the user’s understanding of important content.
Informing the status of requests
The user wants to know what’s going on with your system, like if the form they submitted is going to take a long time to be processed, if the purchase has been completed, if their internet isn’t working, etc.
We can use animations to show the status of a request, communicating to the user that you haven’t forgotten about them, that you’re doing something that won’t take too long, and that if they’re patient everything will turn out fine. This type of communication increases the client’s engagement, making sure they don’t give up on your website and look for a better one.
The interface’s element animations are meant to facilitate the user’s life. It should be visually obvious and explicit to the user what has and what will occur.
Besides the advantages already mentioned, investing in animations and transitions can reinforce a brand’s visual identity, in addition to building more perceived value for the brand. After all, the user’s experience isn’t just visual — the interaction between the client and the system is fundamental.
Therefore, this interaction should flow naturally without causing interruptions in communication, in addition to being coherent with the rest of the website. Using the aforementioned techniques increases the user’s level of engagement with the website, and consequently, with the product, and at last, with the brand.
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