Now available: Design for Impact by Erin Weigel

Frequently Asked Questions

These common questions and their short answers are taken from Val Head’s book Designing Interface Animation: Meaningful Motion for User Experience. You can find longer answers to each in your copy of the book, either printed or digital version.

  1. Is this book only about web animation?
    I’m framing the majority of my discussion of animation around the web because that’s my preferred medium; however, all of the theory and design approaches to using animation effectively apply to other platforms as well. Even if the technology of web animation isn’t what you’ll be working with, there are still many benefits you can gain from including animation in your design efforts.
  2. Why talk about animation now?
    The technology available on the web means that it’s now possible to create effective animation using the same technologies that you’ve been using to build websites all along. At the same time, much of the audience’s expectations have changed in recent years, due to the popularity of smartphones, touch screens, and similar devices. The combination of these two recent trends means that you should consider the potential design benefits of animation more closely. See page 4 for more information.
  3. How can animation improve the user experience? How does it become more than just decoration or distraction?
    Animation can improve feedback, aid in orientation, direct attention, show causality, and express your brand’s personality. Great interface animation combines a known purpose and expert animation style to blend seamlessly into the rest of the design and enhance the experience. Identifying strong foundations of purpose for animation are covered in Chapters 4 through 9.
  4. How do I convince my boss/client/team that animation is something we should use?
    Getting your teammates or colleagues to view animation as a useful design tool takes time and won’t happen overnight, but it can be done. The way to do this is to be an internal champion of animation and what it can add to your design efforts at every opportunity. The more examples you can show to demonstrate what animation can offer design, the easier it will be for your colleagues to see the potential benefits of animation. See page 164 for more advice on how to be an undercover animation hero.
  5. How can I express my brand in motion?
    Knowing your brand’s personality and how it expresses itself in motion is key to creating a unique experience across many platforms and mediums. The same voice and tone your brand expresses with things like copy, content, type, and color can be expressed in animation terms as well. Depending on whether you are working with an established brand or a brand new venture, you may want to start with a motion audit—cataloging the animation that you already have—or by translating your brand’s current personality traits to animation directly. See Chapter 9 for more details on each approach and other tips for expressing your brand in motion.
  6. Do Disney’s classic principles of animation still apply to animating interfaces?
    They absolutely do! While interface animation works in a different medium than these classic principles were originally written for, the concepts covered in the classic principles show you how to create animation that references the real world and communicates effectively—both of which are useful for designing effective interface animations. Much like you might reference the general guidelines of typography before delving into a layout with type, the classic principles can help guide your animation decisions. For more on the classic principles and how they apply to interface work, see Chapter 2.
  7. How does animation affect the accessibility of an interface?
    Animation can have both positive and negative effects on accessibility. It can help to make interfaces easier to understand by reducing cognitive load and making feedback or state changes easier to follow and understand. But it can also negatively affect people with vestibular disorders and similar conditions. For more on the potential impacts of animation on accessibility and how to animate responsibly, see Chapter 12.

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