Functional animation can improve the usability of a web page. A sequence of sections can be converted into a memorable user experience. The traditional point of view suggests that animations are good for aesthetics but do not improve the usability.
In this blog post, we will take a look at how animations can be leveraged to improve the usability of web pages and improve the user experience.
Before we begin, remember that web pages are not just visual presentations but also serve as a platform to interact with your audience. The level of detailing in design makes all the difference. Animations are great at reinforcing interactions in the mind of the customer and also boost engagement.
There are different kinds of animations—they range from a simple hover state to detailed animations that resemble a video. Simple animations create a positive emotional connection with your audience.
Some common types of animations include:
- Hover effects
- Form validation
- Progression loads
- Visual storytelling elements
- Navigation elements
Common animation techniques include:
- Traditional Animation: Also known as classical or cel animation, this technique requires each frame to be drawn by hand on a physical medium. It used to be a major part of cinema before computer animation caught up.
- 2D Vector-Based Animation: This animation technique is used to create movement in 2D space. One needs to be creative and technically sound to work in 2D animation.
- 3D Computer Animation: 3D computer graphics are the ones that use a three-dimensional model of geometric data. The data is stored in a computer for evaluation and rendering of 2D images into a 3D format.
- Motion Graphics: This technique includes editing digital footage or animations into an illusion of motion and is often combined with audio assets to use in multimedia projects.
- Stop Motion: This is a technique to create animated films in which objects are modified or manipulated manually between different photographed frames which showcase an independent movement when the series of frames is played at a fast pace.
Animations should exist on the web page with a functional purpose. Here are few practical ways to improve the usability of web pages using animations:
- Follow a storytelling approach: Your work should not be mechanical, it should be engaging and should tell a story using small gesture-based animations. With the right animations, you can bring life to your content so as to grab the visitor’s attention and convince them to take the required action.
- Provide feedback: Interaction between customers and computers is based on user input and system feedback. As a designer, you must make sure that all interactive elements should respond to user input and have appropriate audio or visual feedback. Some use cases of human-computer interaction include virtual reality—both VR and AVR have become active parts of marketing and product design. Another example is voice-guided interface— interactions between humans and voice assistants (Siri, Cortana, Ok Google, Alexa and more).
- Cognitive overload: It is important to keep the amount of mental effort required by a visitor to understand your design to be minimum. Cognitive overload can often lead to a rise in the bounce rate, surface level website visits, decreased conversion and drop in the number of repeat visitors.
- Avoid abrupt transitions: Adding animations at the moment of change is a great way to transition from one page to another. Abrupt moments of change are distracting and make users lose interest in what you have to offer. Make sure that the transitions are gradual and are contextually connected to the previous one.
- Introduce playful elements: It is tough to incorporate fun elements in everyday experiences, but with a surprise element, you can turn an ordinary interaction into a memorable experience. Add elements in places where audience least expects it and you will have their attention. Example – Facebook’s Memories Video Feature.
- Influence what users see: Since most of the elements in a website are stagnant, anything that moves will grab the attention of the user. Animations can be used in the form of different alerts, these include notifications about messages, updates, features and more.
Now that we have a clear idea about the types of animation techniques and practical ways to improve usability, it is time to look into the best practices that you can follow when creating web pages.
The process isn’t about inserting a tagline and concluding with a CTA button, but it is about creating pages that are in sync with the latest trends. Here are a few points that you can follow:
- Follow a storyboard: Create a concise storyboard that includes all the milestones in the page creation process. With a proper sequence at hand, you will not miss out on any details that need to be incorporated in the page.
- Don’t complicate things: It is a good idea to animate some elements but it is a bad idea to animate multiple elements at once. Doing so will create a distracting page for the user and also increase the page load time.
- Keep it short: Unless you are showcasing a long video in the right context such as a tutorial or brand advertisement, it is a good idea to keep the animations short and crisp. Long animations should only be used when absolutely necessary.
- Subtle effects: Adding special effects is cool but the key is to execute them in the right manner. Add special effects on the page without creating disturbance among other elements or overlapping on screen.
- Design carefully: Empathize with your audience and try to understand the kind of page they would like to see. Identify the page’s personality and animate elements keeping that in mind. Your color scheme, placement of elements, and animation should be in sync with the theme you are presenting to the audience.
- Responsive web pages: It has been said time and again that responsive web pages are an absolute necessity today. Your pages should be responsive and should work perfectly across different devices like PC, laptop, mobile phone, and tablet. New styles and subtle effects can be added to function across different devices to showcase information. Device friendly pages increase the time users spend on your website, improving the chances of conversion.
- Prototyping: This process is an integral part of the design process and allows your team to go through different concepts and elements at the initial stages of a project. You can create a mockup of your web pages, mobile apps, or websites to cater to any potential errors in advance. This will save a lot of time and keep your investment safe.
To wrap up
Animation can be the missing key to optimize your current website. It offers a wide range of UX options that are not present in a traditional setup. Get more control over your content and it will reflect directly into the user experience.
Ready to embrace the changes and improve your website’s usability?