How to improve UX with animations

Functional animation reduces cognitive load, prevents change blindness and establishes a better understanding of spatial relationships, driving traffic to your webpage


Driving traffic to your website is a challenging task, that's for sure, but getting your visitors to come back is an even more difficult endeavor.

First of all, you need to offer them an exceptional web design.

But, the look and feel won't cut it per se – 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad user experience.

In other words, you have to use that one opportunity to impress your visitors very cleverly and effectively with great UX, or else they'll bounce right off and tell others about their disappointing experience with your website.

Enter animation.

Well-designed animations are fun, engaging and nice to look at. But, there's more to them than meets the eye. Functional animation has another, even more important purpose – to reduce cognitive load, prevent change blindness and establish a better understanding of spatial relationships.

Here's how you can tap into the power of FA to improve your UX.

Keep your users interested with loading sequences

Information overload, technological advancement and a fast-paced lifestyle have made people increasingly impatient. Your audience is bombarded with gigabytes of information and multimedia on a daily basis and their brains process more than 34GB of data every day.

No wonder they don't want to wait longer than 2–3 seconds for your website to load.

However, apart from improving your website loading times, you should also engage your visitors by animating this whole process.

Instead of using progress indicators, which only draw your visitors' attention to the fact that they're waiting, you can use the skeleton screen effect. This way, your page will load gradually and keep visitors interested by playing the anticipation card. The visual placeholders give users bits of content to engage them until your entire web page is fully loaded, thus practically taking their mind off the idea that they're waiting.

Provide visual feedback

You want your visitors to interact with your content, download a document, sign up for a service or make a purchase.

But, if you want to improve their user experience, you need to provide some kind of feedback and show them the result of the interaction. It's important to let them know whether it was successful or not and indicate what they should do to make it work.

For example, online forms are among the most common causes of friction and almost 70% of users tend to abandon their form if they encounter any complications. Similarly,  almost 70% of online shoppers abandon their carts, and one of the top reasons is a long and complicated checkout process.

That's why e-commerce heavily depends on implementing the best UX principles and practices.

Again, animation can save the day (and a lot of your money) by facilitating it.

By indicating that a user entered incorrect data or missed a field, you help them fix their input. A shake animation, paired with a red outline around the invalid fields, is an excellent way of showing your users that their password is wrong, or that they forgot to enter their email address during the registration process. This way, you help your visitors identify their error quickly instead of letting them scratch their heads wondering what went wrong.

The same principle applies to indicating successful completion of an action. Whe n your visitor successfully completes a form or makes a payment, it's a good idea to use a checkmark animation and leverage the power of positive reinforcement.

Give new users visual hints

New users usually need help when it comes to using and interacting with complex interfaces, or they will be confused and frustrated.

Explanatory animation can come in handy and act as an easy and intuitive onboarding process which will guide your users through all the features and functionalities of an application or interface.

People are visual creatures, and it's much easier for them to grasp a concept no matter how complex it is if they can process it visually. That's why even if the features that you have to explain are complicated, you can seamlessly and effectively present them with animation. Besides, these visual hints are much more entertaining and attention-grabbing than textual cues.

Drive users' attention

Apps and web pages show us screens full of different elements, and it can be hard to understand what every one of them is used for.

Animation has the power of influencing users' eyes and driving their attention to a certain functionality or a desired action. But the trick is to make sure that your animation doesn't distract users from the content, which means that you have to consider the speed and location of animation on the page. For example, a 'back to the top' button placed on the left side of the screen is more a distraction than a useful functionality. This is because surveys tell us say that people spend 80% of their time viewing the left part of the screen, which means that if your 'back to the top' button pops up there, it will divert your readers' attention from the content.

Besides, since the whole point of this button is to appear once the reader reaches the bottom of the page, it's completely counterproductive to show it while they're still scrolling down and obviously reading.

So, animated motions are capable of making UI predictable and intuitive, as well as indicate what's about to happen by showing users' where new element or object comes from or where a hidden object disappears.

Closing thoughts

Animation can bring your web page or application to life and capture your users' attention, but only if you know when and how to use it. So, before you decide to include an animation just for the sake of it, think again and try to give it a meaningful purpose, because otherwise, it will be no more than a distraction. 

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