UI animation has come a long way over the last decade. Animations don’t just look cool, but they’ve evolved into a universal digital language people recognize and understand.
These microinteractions allow designers to communicate with users through movement and animation to provide guidance, context, and an immersive user experience.
This article explores UI animation, the types, principles, and everyday examples to improve user interaction for your digital product.
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UI animation or user interface animation adds visual effects to UI elements and components to make them interactive. This interactivity helps guide users through a website or digital product while creating an immersive and enjoyable user experience.
As we discuss in an in-depth article, microinteractions occur in four stages:
UI animations occur during the feedback and mode stages when the user interface changes in relation to the trigger and conditions.
The primary role of UI animations is to draw users’ attention to an important CTA or show them what to do next. UI animations allow designers to communicate with users without text.
For example, a progress bar will animate to draw your attention so you can see how much of a signup process you must still complete. The alternative would be text somewhere on the user interface saying something like, “you have completed 20% of this signup process.”
You can imagine that a user interface would get very cluttered and confusing if text replaced UI animation!
UI animation also allows designers to communicate with users across cultures and languages. Animating a button to show a user where to click (or tap) will attract their attention, no matter what language they speak.
Lastly, UI animation plays a crucial role in design psychology and reducing cognitive load. Designers minimize the mental effort required to use a digital product by providing context, familiarity, and consistency through animations.
There are four primary types of UI animations:
Loading and progress allow users to visualize where they are or what’s happening.
Designers often use animations to communicate a digital product or element’s state.
For example, a button might remain dark and unclickable until a user complete’s the required form fields. Once the form is complete, the button’s state changes to active (or clickable), letting users know they can click the button to proceed.
Navigational UI animations help users navigate user interfaces and find what they want. Designers will use animation to show users which page or tab they’re viewing or create page transitions that indicate which direction they’re moving.
UI animation is also helpful to communicate navigational hierarchy so users can understand the product or website’s structure–resulting in a more enjoyable user experience.
Microinteractions convey feedback and information based on user interaction or system changes. This feedback and information almost always include some type of UI animation.
A microinteraction we see every day is a mobile text or message notification. When you receive a text, a popup appears on your phone to alert you. In some instances, the alert will show you the whole text message before minimizing it to show the sender’s name. This entire notification sequence is a UI animation triggered by the system.
Another common microinteraction is how a digital product responds to scrolling or swiping. As you perform these actions, multiple UI animations may take place, like a page transition, content loading, navigational changes, and more.
Animations are a fantastic way to promote brand awareness and interaction with users. Designers will often use fun logo animations to give the brand a lighthearted, welcoming appeal.
UXPin’s code-based editor enables designers to create JS-based interactions that look and feel like the final product. With high-fidelity prototypes that behave like the final product, designers get significantly better feedback from usability testing and stakeholders. Sign up for a 14-day free trial to experience advanced interactions and animations with UXPin.
Here are four creative UI animation examples designers have used to improve a product’s user experience.
Dribbble freelance UI designer Dannniel uses UI animations to give users a sense of control while shopping online. In an animation UI design concept for a shoe-seller, Dannniel created an interface where users can learn basic information about a shoe (such as price and reviews).
Dragging to the left will open a screen overlay (simultaneously activating several UI animations) where customers can choose their size and color preference.
Even the most successful eCommerce stores struggle to make shopping engaging and fun. These sites often have cluttered page layouts that aren’t always obvious for users and involve lots of clicking or tapping to access dropdown menus. These cluttered user interfaces don’t create a sense of control or fulfillment.
With Dannniel’s UI animations, shoppers can access and select product variants using one hand–perfect for users on a mobile device. As you scroll through the sizes, the product changes too. These small details create an immersive, more enjoyable shopping experience.
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