Web design is all about clean lines and minimalism at the moment, so how can you work in animated elements that enhance the user experience?
A heavy-handed approach can lead to websites that take ages to load or are difficult to navigate, but there are certainly ways to bring your website to life with the help of animated design.
When used appropriately, web animation can be a tool that not only makes your website more unique, but also user-friendly. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Keep it subtle
If a new visitor to your site has to wait for a 30-second long animated video telling the story of your business every time they load your website, they’re probably not going to come back.
Longer forms of animation should be optional. However, animated features can be worked into the site’s design to subtly enhance it. Ideally, these should feel natural and light-hearted, creating a site that feels livelier. Make sure that every animated element has a purpose and works with the overall design.
Keep it consistent
Are your animated elements consistent with the rest of the site’s design, or do they stick out awkwardly? Don’t hire an animator with a vastly different visual style than your graphic design. If you need to brush up on these ideas, you can learn more about both animation and graphic design principles in this recent guide to TAFE courses. For example, if you have used baroque imagery in the site’s graphics only to implement a futuristic, sharp-edged animated element, this will be jarring and break up the continuity of the website.
Make sure it adds to the user experience
One of the reasons why animation has gotten a bad rap in the past is that it can be seen as superfluous to a website’s overall design. It’s seen more as a decorative element that really holds no purpose in the user experience.
However, when used the right way it can actually contribute as a guiding tool like any other. Animation can be used as a conversion tool to guide users to an end result, whether it’s through the use of promos, banners, or menus. In this sense, animation helps the user understand the site’s navigation so that they know what to look at and where to go.
Test and test again
If you’re incorporating animation into your web design with the end goal of improving conversion rates or enhancing the user experience, test it frequently to be sure that it’s effective with users. Ask for feedback from users to find out whether the designs are slowing them down or contributing to their experience. Do they find the animated movements stiff and unnatural, or are they successful organic components of the design? Does the animation stand out in a jarring way or is it unexpected and delightful? Check in with user testing to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Animation can serve many purposes. It can help you tell a story, assist with transitions on your site, or serve a purely decorative purpose. When you’re looking for ways to make your website stand out from the crowd and provide a better user experience, it’s a tool that’s well worth looking at. Just keep the principles of good design in mind and test frequently to make sure you’re achieving the results you’re after.