Add Simple CSS Animation to Your UI

When you create a web page, you use tools like fonts, colors, photos, illustrations and shapes to draw attention to important parts and guide the user on how to use your page. Another tool that you can add to help convey information is animation. Animation allows you to add movement or motion on your page. People are hardwired to respond and react to movement. By adding animation, we can use it as another technique for communicating with our users.

Add Simple CSS Animation to Your UI
Photo by: Image by Ambady Sasi from Pixabay

Why use animation?

Animation helps you to draw people’s attention the part of the page that has changed, show users where to look next or highlight the arrival or removal of important information. You can use it for telling a story, branding and improving your user’s experience.

What do you need to remember when adding animation?

  • Don’t animate everything. Use it sparingly. Animation should help guide people on using your page not distract or confuse them.
  • Make sure it fits with your style or brand. If you are playful and not serious, you can use animation that has a playful aspect. If you are more serious, you want your animation to be simple and functional.
  • Don’t assume that your animation will work on all devices. You need to test, test and test again.

What kind of animations can I use?

You can add animations to a dashboard, web app or mobile only features. One popular method is to change the hamburger menu to an X. This change lets the user know that the menu can be closed. You can add animations to images on hover or in a gallery.

Hamburger Menu changes to an X

See the Pen
Animated – Hamburger Icon (spans)
by Steven Roberts (@matchboxhero)
on CodePen.

CSS Animation on Hover

See the Pen
Playing a CSS animation on hover
by Val Head (@valhead)
on CodePen.

Accordian Image Gallery

See the Pen
Accordion Image Gallery
by Stefan C. (@stefcharle)
on CodePen.

How can I learn more about animation?

CSS Animation Rocks
A CSS Animations Tutorial
CSS Tricks – Animation
Create Cool UI Animations in CSS

3 Dashboard Design Inspirations on CodePen

An easy to read dashboard has from 5-9 pieces of information on it. By combining color, fonts and icons, you can make a dashboard simple and easy to use. I found these three examples on CodePen that you can use to inspire your own designs.

3 Dashboard Designs CodePen
Photo by Lukas from Pexels

Bootstrap 4 Dashboard Stats Example

It shows 6 different statistics using Bootstrap 4. Each statistics is in a separate box that was built using the card layout. @elmorabityounes uses the default classes from Bootstrap to color the background, border and text. The text formatting is kept simple by using header tags to display the copy. Each box has its own icon from Font Awesome. The result is a simple design with no additional CSS or JavaScript.

Bootstrap Dashboard Indicators

When you design a dashboard, you’ll need to use different type of indictors to display information. Herman Starikov shows you how to use Bootstrap to create different indicators. He combines Font Awesome, Flexbox and CSS Animation. Herman also uses icons as decorative background elements. With CSS and Animation, your dashboard doesn’t have to be plain or boring.

Full Dashboard Design

CodePen Admin Dashboard

This complete Dashboard has a statistics, charts, a map and a chat box. Haidarali Nadi Shah demonstrates how to use Flat design, Font Awesome and JavaScript for functionality and additional theming. It includes a side menu bar that shrinks and expands when you click on it.

With the above examples, you can include different pieces of information in your design. You can choose to HTML and CSS, a CSS Framework like Bootstrap or include JavaScript to create more complex functionality. No matter what methods you choose, you can create a dashboard that provides your customers with the information that they need. Before you design your next dashboard, remember to review these 3 Dashboard Design Tips.

3 Dashboard Design Tips

Dashboard design sounds simple. You want to create a way of presenting data to your users that is clean and easy to understand. Easy right?

3 Dashboard Design Tips
Photo by: rawpixel.com from Pexels

No, dashboard design is more difficult than it seems. You need to consider your users before you can decide what data to present to them and how.

Ask these questions before you start building

  1. What data needs to be show to your users? You want to track a small number of key metrics. Not all data should be on a dashboard. Some data belongs in a report. If the data your considering is a summary or analysis, it may work better as a report.
  2. How am I going to present this data? You can choose to display the data as a chart, gauge, totals or a simple table.
  3. What actions do you want the user to take? Should they click on a link to open a report, update some information or do nothing?

Sketch out your design

After you researched and learned what data the user wants to see, you need to decide how to organize the data. You may find that you have too many pieces of information to present to the user. Sketch out your dashboard before you build it to determine what pieces of data go where. An easy to read dashboard has from 5-9 pieces of information on it. Remember that less is more.

Keep the design simple

You want your users to be able to scan the dashboard quickly. Help them by choosing to limit the number of pieces of information, colors, fonts and other UI elements. Your design should be minimal.

By asking questions before you build a dashboard, sketching out the design and keeping the design simple, you can give your users key pieces of information quickly.

More information on Designing With Data
Data Visualization Best Practices 2013

3 Tips for Better Forms UX

When you enter information into a form, it is easy to make mistakes. How do you help your users make less mistakes? You provide them with defaults. Defaults can help users to fill out a form quicker, make decisions easier and reduce errors.

3 Tips For Better Forms UX
Photo by: BiljaST

When you build a form, you need to get different types of information. Some information like their name, address and email address need to be entered by the user. Other information like state, country, gender or some other information that requires a decision can use a default. A default is the most likely option that a user would choose.

For example, your user is going to buy a product. The default quantity is one. You set the quantity for them, so they don’t have to. It helps them to make the purchase quickly. You don’t want them to think to hard on how many they want.

Should you use a drop down list or something else?

It depends. If you have a short number of options, you can use a radio button list. The list makes it easy to scan your options and choose quickly.

For a longer list of options like State or Country, a radio button list would be too hard to read. It is better to put the options in a drop down list. Most mobile devices can handle the use of a drop down list on a form. If you aren’t certain which one works better for your form, you can ask these 9 questions to help you decide.

Address Form with Defaults

Should you choose an option in a drop down list?

When you can, fill drop down lists like state and country with user data. For drop down lists that require a decision by the user, you can leave the field blank. By leaving them blank, people scan for the empty or blank fields and fill them in. They rarely change fields with defaults in them.

Should you use placeholders in fields?

If you are designing a short form with a couple of fields like a login or sign up form, then the answer is yes. You can use placeholders instead of labels on these forms.

Curves Join Form

When you create longer forms like an event registration form, don’t use placeholders. Use clear label, error messages and defaults to help guide the user through the form.

When you build a form, you can use these techniques to help guide them through filling out a form. Defaults, radio button lists or other input fields, pre-selected drop down lists and placeholders in fields when necessary. By making decisions for users and guiding them through the data entry process of your form, you can help make filling out forms faster and easier.

Tips for UX Writing

What is UX Writing? It is the practice of writing copy that is used in user interfaces to guide the user and help them figure how to use the website or app. You write your copy to ensure that everything matches the tone and style of your brand. Microcopy is the small pieces of copy that helps the user get stuff done. These little pieces are typically error messages, button text, helpful hints, notifications and more.

Tips for Ux Writing
Photo by Sarah Pflug

Why UX Writing?

It affects how the users interact with the UI. Good copy makes the user interface easier to learn and to use. It guides the user on what they need to do and doesn’t interrupt them. Bad copy ruins the experience for the user. It makes it harder for the user to learn and use the UI.

Tips for Good UX Writing

  1. Have a conversation. Talk to your users. Avoid writing robot-like messages. Use words like “you”, “we” and “our”.
  2. Keep it simple. Be brief and avoid complex technical jargon.
  3. Don’t be too quirky. Trying to be fun and cool can backfire. Use it sparingly.
  4. Test your copy on a variety of users. If they are having trouble understanding or using the UI, you need to change your interface or simplify the copy.
  5. Reflect your brand. Make sure your copy matches your voice and tone. Refer to MailChimp’s Content Style Guide for tips on writing for your users.

Copy is an integral part of your UI. The copy should guide the users and be unnoticeable. Good copy improves the usability and functionality of the UI. It helps a user to intuitively understand what they need to do. If you have to explain your UI, it isn’t done right.

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