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UI Animation: Please Use Responsibly

link to original storyFeb 23, 2017
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Designers must take a step back and ask what is the goal or purpose of the animation. By animating with intent, motion is used as a tool for communication. Designers should avoid using frivolous animation that get in the way of the user.

Designers can take advantage of animation to solve design problems such as showing continuity and relationships between objects via entry and exit animations. From reducing the cognitive load to improving decision making, meaningful animations can delight and inform users.
Reducing Cognitive Load

Cognitive load is the amount of mental effort needed to complete a task. Wikipedia says “heavy cognitive load can have negative effects on task completion.” When users are on a site, they’re flooded with information. As a result, they have selective attention a.k.a ‘tunnel vision’, meaning they focus directly on the area of the screen that they are working on; therefore, users will not see everything on the screen.

As designers, it is important to create an interface that is easy to use. This frees up the user’s mental effort to complete their task. How can designers achieve this with animation? Motion, when used well, reduces user confusion by effectively communicating user feedback. Additionally, by freeing up the user’s mind, attention can be drawn to more important things such as the page’s “call to action”.

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