Animation in the UI UX Design Multiverse

01/09/2021
blog

Animation in the UI UX design universe is somewhat different from animations in general.  

UX and UI animation should be somewhat discreet, low-key, artful, but subtle. The users shouldn’t lose themselves in all sorts of navigation metaphors. That is why, animations in UI and UX should abide certain laws, and principles.

Motion in the UI UX Design Universe

Thanks to our peripheral vision, we can detect motion almost instantly. It is an “evolutionary feature” that has helped us survive as species.

So, we are immediately drawn by animations and motion graphics. Nevertheless, we also tend to get very distracted by them. Therefore, there is a fine line between functional animation in UX design and annoying motion graphics.

UI motion graphics are not necessarily meant to entertain users. First and foremost, they should offer unobtrusive guidance to your audience. Secondly, they must capture your users’ attention. And last but not least, they must make people smile. How?

The goal of animation in UI UX Design

There are three important functions that animations in the UI UX Design should provide:

  • Functional animations
  • Material animations
  • Delightful animations

So, let’s take them one by one and see what they mean!

Functional animations

First of all, functional animations in UX design help enhance and streamline the user experience. They drive users’ attention in the right direction. Moreover, they provide visual feedback for user interactions.

functional UI UX Design

Secondly, functional animations should encourage your audience to establish certain visual connections. For example, your audience should be able to anticipate where a certain button leads. Functional animations are like the legend to your digital journey’s map.

Material Animations

The digital environment should be no stranger to concepts such as height, elevation, velocity or weight.

So, material animations delineate the spaces between different elements and screens. Furthermore, they bring balance to the whole design.

Basically, you have to make your UI logical, abiding by the laws of physics, gravity, inertia, rigidity etc. This way, the buttons, windows, categories will flow naturally. The whole UX design will look authentic.

Let’s take drop-down menus as an example. They seem to have a lot in common with gravity, don’t they? It’s just more natural for the menu to drop open, isn’t it?

All in all, material animations make your users feel at home and browse naturally through your interface. Everything should be predictable and easy to navigate.

It doesn’t limit your imagination. You can have off-canvas menus or hide all sorts of things inside floating buttons. You can put expandable windows and carousels. Just don’t make them float oddly with no rhyme or reason.

Delightful Animations

So, delightful animations should make people smile without distracting them. They come third, after functional and material animations. Nevertheless, they have the honour of being the icing on the cake.

When your design flows naturally, make sure you also add that fun and genial component. You know, to make people’s day. Experiment with lottie animations, you won’t regret it!

So, as a small conclusion, functional and material animations correspond respond to our rational thinking. Delightful animations are all about our emotions.

And if you want to relax from all the UI UX design trauma, browse through our NFT music collection. You might get some inspiration!

Applying the 12 Principles of Aimation to the UI UX Multiverse

Ever head of the concept of UX Choreography? It is part of this complex UI UX Design Multiverse. Basically, it represents the common ground where motion graphics and UX meet. It is like the marriage between Disney and Steve Jobs.

There are 5 basic UX Choreography principles:

  • Feedback
  • Feedforward
  • Spatial Awareness
  • User Focus
  • Brand Voice

Feedback in UI UX Design

In UI UX design, feedback is the animation of a feature that reacts to a user’s touch. It could be a tactile element in an app or the pop-up of an element on the screen.

It basically makes the user feel like they’re doing more than just tapping on a screen. This rule links to the Exaggeration principle of animation. For example, you can exaggerate the size or shape of an object as the user clicks on it. This way, you make them feel they are really doing something.

Moreover, you can squash and stretch certain objects when users interact with them. Just make sure that you maintain a certain level of “gravity” and weight in your design.

Feedforward

According to this UX Choreography principle, you need to nudge users in the right direction. You can use small buttons or animations pointing in a certain direction. It’s like saying, “look here”, “you should start your journey from here”. These signs need to be powerful but subtle.

This Feedforward rule links directly to the Anticipation principle in general animation. The hover effects are a good example. When users hover over a button, you give them a brief idea of what they’re about to see if they click on it. That’s building anticipation, and nudging your audience in the direction you want.

Spatial Awareness in UI and UX

Every digital realm or environment that you are creating should be realistic to some degree. We know you could get over-excited with a certain idea. It could be a crazy animation, transition or effect, but don’t sacrifice logic for it.

Think in screen real estate first. Find your way in your “screen space” so that you can help users orient as well. This links to the Staging principle in animation.

So, if you want to hide some additional controls behind the home screen, give users a clue first. Make sure you display a cheeky loading icon or spinner when something’s about to happen.

Do not let your users in the dark. Always stage the scene for their next action.

Spatial Awareness is also crucial when overlapping. When you have a rich digital platform combining typography, shapes, spacing and colours, you need to always consider the weight and size of every element. Group the elements together. The objects in the same group should always move together. The secret sauce to overlapping stands in the subtle differences in speed and acceleration.

User Focus

It’s an intricate dance of bringing objects to the foreground at just the right time. It is about making the background subtly react to actions, darkening or fading a bit.

User focus is all about smart tricks. For example, hide the contextual controls when they’re not needed. Make sure that every little object and element come into focus just at the right time.

So, use cheeky little tricks to guide your user’s focus in the desired direction. But be subtle, unobtrusive.

Brand Voice

Brand voice is actually your brand’s “sex appeal”, and it mirrors the general appeal principle of animation. This is the realm of the delightful animations we mentioned above.

So, sprinkle something that is yours in the design. Make it whimsical and iconic. There’s really no secret sauce here.

It’s got to come from your brand book. As a consequence, if you’re building an app, it should follow the theme of your brand. If you’re creating a digital platform, let our brand speak. Whether it’s a cat wearing a cape or an elephant doing a balancing act, make it yours.

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