Functional Animation: The Fine Art of Enhancing the UI of Mobile Apps
In this oversaturated market, it's hard for a mobile app to get noticed and get ahead. Animation in its UI can be the key to success.
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Driving success for a mobile app is a challenge, considering the huge competition it faces on the app store. The UI of an app is the first impression that it gives to the user and also the key parameter that determines its fate. Additionally, it has a direct influence on the user experience the app offers. This is the reason why developers focus on incorporating outstanding design elements in the UI to take it a notch higher.
Animations make one of the most creative design supplements that can instill a human touch in a virtual interface. As the name suggests, animation refers to the motion effects that break the monotony of static screens and make them dynamic. But these effects go far beyond creating an eye-catching impact. In fact, animation is now being used as a fine art that enhances the functionality of the mobile app UI so that it delivers an unmatched user experience.
In-App Animation and User Experience
In-app animation has emerged as a powerful design tool that is being incorporated in mobile applications to give them a winning edge. Rather than focusing on the aesthetic value of animation elements, designers are inclined towards making them functional. These are subtly embedded in the design to add to its functionality, in addition to making it more human-centric and intuitive. The basic idea is to create meaningful motions that have a far-reaching effect on the user behavior and drive them to take actions that benefit the app. Here are the ways that integration of smart animation can benefit a mobile app:
- Interactive animation enables the app to serve instant responses to the user's actions.
- It enhances the user's engagement and retains them for the long run.
- Animated effects increase the visual appeal of the app so that it appears as an enticing option amongst its competitors.
- Functional animation also offers information related to the user status and system status.
- It drives customer loyalty by adding a personalized touch to the app.
The advantages of adding animation elements to an application are immense, yet it is important to understand the value of keeping things balanced. Adding too much can do more harm than good, while a mere, subtle touch can be enough to make the app stand apart. Here are the basic functionalities that can be facilitated with the use of smart animation:
Loading does not always need to be boring as animation can add a new dimension to the way the system status is displayed on the app. It can be used for giving the users a visual indication of what is going on behind the walls without keeping them guessing. For example, functional animation effects can be used for indicating system processes such as data upload and download. Animated loading bars, for instance, make a better alternative to the conventional spinning loading indicators.
Visual Feedback to User Action
Another form in which functional animation can be used in mobile apps is to provide visual feedback for an action carried out by a user. The app can employ these effects to give instant feedback about the success or failure of an operation. Shake animation is a popular method of showing a wrong action, such as entering an incorrect password. Similarly, a nod animation is used to reinforce a correct action performed by the user.
Navigational transition, which is an integral element of app usage, is also made more obvious with animated effects. The transition from one stage to another involves hard cuts by default, which makes it tough for the user to understand. With functional animation, however, the transition becomes easy to understand as there is a visual connection between the states of the app.
In-app animation also serves as a reliable support tool for the first-time users who are not completely comfortable with the UI. Apps with unique interactions use animations in the form of visual hints to drive the user attention as well as clear their confusion related to app interaction.
Besides all the tangible functions that app animations perform, these are linked with some emotional aspects too. They serve as useful branding tools by establishing an emotional engagement with the users. Branding animation strengthens the user-experience and entices them to bring in more users by spreading the word about the amazing experience offered by the app. An application which uses animation effects smartly can actually leave its competitors behind only on the basis of the popularity that these fetch for it.
Best Practices for Adding Animations to Your Mobile Apps
The rule of thumb for using animation as a part of app design is not to overdo things. Judicious use of the right effects can elevate the value of the app, while too much of it can cause performance issues as well as irritate the users. Here are the best practices that designers can adhere to achieve that fine balance which can make the app an outstanding one:
- Focus on including only those animations that are meaningful and serve a purpose, rather than only being eye candy. They should add value for the user by easing navigation and providing support.
- Every single UI element should feel real, not deliberate. Animations too should be placed naturally within the interface so that they do not interfere with its continuity. Their pace should be smooth and optimal, without jittery halts and movements.
- The idea behind including animation in an app is to get the user attention and this is the concept that should be followed to the end. The effect is to be created with proper planning, with the focus on clarity and intuitiveness. Minimalism is the key and anything that is unnecessary should be avoided.
- Longevity is another consideration that is to be kept in mind while designing an animated effect for an app. Make sure that the animation does not lose its value after repeated use.
- Finally, iterative prototyping and testing of the animations is extremely important. Prototyping conveys the intention behind the use of animation in the design. Testing, on the other hand, exposes the flaws in the effects so that the requisite changes can be made in them. This step is crucial for making the big difference between a good and a great animation effect.
The purpose of UI animation should extend beyond flaunting advanced design elements on the app interface. It is a powerful tool that can be harnessed to transform a mobile app into a carefully choreographed experience that leaves a lasting impression on the user.
Published at DZone with permission of Anjali Sharma. See the original article here.
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