Animation & User Interface — A New Motion Picture
In the first half of the twentieth century, User Interface (UI) was of limited use as they were utilized only, for the purpose of certain work. When the computer finally arrived during the latter half of the twentieth century, the nature of UI changed. With the advent of the Internet in the 1990s, UI became user-friendly.
Improving User Experience
In twentieth century, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Inc., originated the idea of products which are tangibles — iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and intangibles — iTunes and iBooks. With the invention of these products, he introduced one more ingredient to the concoction, i.e. Animation. Steve Jobs was, not only, a computer pioneer, he was an animation pioneer as well. He co-founded the era of CGI or computer-generated animation. With this technique, he has made UIs more user-friendly and entertaining.
UX on iOS Devices
Apple, Inc introduced a touch-screen style during the late 2000. This style is an interesting way to encourage users to interact with a mobile device or access an application with just a touch of the finger. With the exception of the iPod Touch, the iPhone and iPad make use of GUIs or graphical user interfaces, which allows users to interact with electronic devices through graphical icons.
Steve Jobs proved that UIs can be more user-friendly, through his creation of Apple products, such as the iPhone and the iPad.
Today, Animation plays a pivotal role in User Interface, such as:
- The interaction between users and UI is easier and faster.
- It enables transitions between dashboards and web pages.
- It provides easy access to web pages, software and applications.
- Motion graphics, such as moving images, effects, and transitions, as well as colorful. fonts help make the interface look more appealing and more convincing to the user.
With these advantages, animation has, not only, transformed UIs into a rapid user-friendly environment, but also, defined a whole-new trend in UIs.
Elements of Animation
Animation has helped the user interface, immensely. Animation consists of graphics — shapes, vectors, images and, if necessary, illustrations. These elements, together, make the user interface a delightful experience and have helped popularize the use of ergonomics, including cognitive ergonomics, which is the study of interaction between humans and other elements. One classic example of cognitive ergonomics that can, easily, be applied here is Human-Computer Interaction. Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) focuses mainly on the interfaces between humans and computers.
Animation — Use Cases
Animation has impacted various industries. For example:
Animation, especially, has played a big role in the video game industry. Video games encourage the interaction between players and animated characters, with the usability of an appealing video interface. Now, with the advent of hand-held devices such as mobile phones, smartphones and tablets, video games are represented in the form of game applications, and can be played anywhere, any time.
Animation has also, helped improve the use of navigation, both online and offline.
- Online: Today, people can search for places on the Internet with the help of digital satellite maps. The user(s) can either search for the place, using the arrows given on the side of the screen to pan left, right, up and down or simply type the name of the place in the “Search” tab at the top of the screen and the user will be automatically, directed to that place on the map.
One such example of online navigation is ‘Google Earth‘.
Maps are also, represented in the form of applications on smartphones and tablets.
- Offline: Places on the map can be searched even without the help of the Internet. Driving exemplifies this. If a motorist is driving on the road and trying to find the post office, he/she can take the help of the automation navigation system.
The automation navigation system is a roadmap presented on a monitor screen, which bears resemblance to that of a computer. The navigation controls are displayed on the screen itself, thereby, enabling the motorist to find his/her way to the post office.
Animation in user interfaces also, helps improve marketing strategies. Today, organizations from all fields employ animation for their websites not just to make themselves look presentable, but, more importantly, to make their goods and services appealing enough in order to meet consumer needs. This method is also, a profitable sign for businesses as it helps in advertising and facilitates consumer satisfaction.
For example, if a person wants to purchase a product of a specific brand, he/she can access the website of that brand. If the interface contains some form of animation and is user-friendly then it is likely to impress the person who might end up buying the product.
Development — Steps to Consider
Sometimes, when you are accessing websites or applications, you might wonder how these things are created. What really goes into the making of something that requires a lot of interaction between humans and devices? What are the necessary steps taken to accomplish such a complicated task?
The following helps you in achieving the desired goal:
- The goal should be “whatever the client asks for, the client gets”.
- You need to arrange a meeting to discuss the application with the team leader and project manager. Then plan out the way it should be presented by exchanging ideas and concepts.
- Once it is decided on how to present the application, the UI designers start creating the application pages on the software, Adobe Illustrator.
- When the introduction and other pages of the application are ready, the UI designers approach the animators for this task.
- By the time the animators are given the task of animating the pages of the application, the UI designers have arranged the pages in such a way that they have been split into different layers in Adobe Illustrator- text, text patches, icons, etc.
- Before the application pages get animated, the animators convert each of the layered items into a symbol, which is also done in Adobe Illustrator. The kind of symbol, that each item is converted into, depends on the style of the animation.
- Once this is done, the animators export the Illustrator file to the animation software, Adobe Animate, and start animating.
- During the process, you can reach out to client(s), to get their thoughts of the website or application.
- Another way of presenting applications or websites to the clients is by making explainer videos, which elucidate the usability and accessibility of them. The explainer videos are short one-minute or two-minute animations, which is a method of visual storytelling.
Animation has helped to increase the use and popularity of the Internet, with websites that have colorful, if not vibrant, dashboards and other web pages. It has helped improve the popularity of mobile phones, with the creation of applications, and the usability of the computer with the creation of tablet computers. The versatility of video games, through game applications and several gaming brands, like PlayStation and Xbox, to name a few; as well as the versatility of podcasts, with the emergence of the iPod and, later, iPod Touch have come to the fore.
With breath-taking visual effects, motion graphics and transitions, be it two-dimensional or three-dimensional, animation has, not only, made User Interface more user-friendly, but has helped build a strong relationship between humans and interfaces, as well. From the point of view of the aforementioned HCI, it is an icing on the cake.
The user interface has played a vital role in everyone’s lives. It has become a digital playground for fun, exploration and communication and all thanks to this technical art form called animation.
Rahul Iyer, Motion Graphics Designer, RapidValue