Animations and Interaction Design

One thing I am noticing more and more often is how interaction design (also called UX design, Web design, App design, etc.) is flooded these days with animations.

Things like this or this. Animations, flying in, flying out, spinning around.

I am old enough to remember the times when we had <marquee /> and <blink />. I also remember the blinking gifs, the geocities websites, etc.

We got rid of all that in some areas as those animations where simply too much. I really only understood that when my uncle was copying some data for me on a Floppy disk on his custom build PC, running Windows 95. He looked at the copying animation and exclaimed: this bloody animation probably burns through a lot of CPU cycles that could be spend on other stuff, like copying faster! (The fans were spinning loudly.)

I doubt he was right, but the animation made him feel like everything took longer then it could.

In Web design, we have used animations to show people something is happening. I remember the first time I saw some content dynamically loaded into a page with Ajax, while showing a spinner.gif. That was really impressive.

Nowadays (again looking at animation inspiration like here) I see 2 things that really really annoy me:

  1. The trend goes to animate everything.
  2. All the animations look the same.

Animating every interaction on a page looks cool, congrats for your portfolio, but it does not really serve a purpose. Personally I find it distracting and since many of those designs are for websites, I also worry about performance. Not even speaking of the dance one has to make to pull those animations of (coding time...) and potential accessibility issues.

iOS allows people to turn of animations for good reasons, they can be jarring, they might cause health issues and they can just also feel incredibly slow. We live in a time where we can preload content, where we do not have to wait.

I can see a clear value in transitioning pages, but if I see stuff like this:

Source: Shota

I am getting concerned. Too much is moving, the content is getting lost and in the end I do not even know of sure what the content really is. I know that in reality this will likely be triggered by some interaction. But just watching this, I feel like we are marching forward some modernly designed geocities style dystopia.

As for all of them looking the same, go and check the Muzli UI Interactions of the week they publish each week. Just go the most recent one as of the time of writing.

I am always happy to see great design and many of the things they showcase look good. But if they are not usable, they should not be produced.

--

--

UX Designer looking for new opportunities! Noise maker, aspiring auto-biographist, moderated radical

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Philipp Tautz

UX Designer looking for new opportunities! Noise maker, aspiring auto-biographist, moderated radical