Animation Principles for Enhancing UX

With new tools like CSS Animation, JavaScript Libraries and modern browsers, we can easily add animation to our websites. Animation helps you to provide context, give feedback, convey status and delight your users. You can affect color, location, scale, shape, focus and opacity of objects. By learning the principles of animation, you can create deliberate animation that improves the user experience.

Photo by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

12 Principles of Animation

Disney animators, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, first introduced the 12 Principles of Animation in their book, The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. They examine the process of animation from Disney’s leading animations and provide you with 12 basic animation principles.

What do the 12 principles provide?

  • Realism
  • Context
  • Causality
  • Focus
  • Delight

They also help to create hierarchy and relationships between objects. These principles help you to provide feedback to the user, indicate status and give instructions. One of the first uses of animation on computer screens was the flashing cursor. It tells you that you can start typing and that the computer is working and not frozen. This simple animation conveys information faster than words can.

How to Use Animation Responsibly

When you are deciding to add animation to your user interface, consider the following:

  • Does it add value?
  • Are your behaviors consistent?
  • Is the user interface still functional without it?
  • Is the animation optimized?
  • Do you need it?

Using Animation to Enhance User Experience

At WordCamp Atlanta 2019, Michelle Schulp gave a talk Squash and Stretch and Good UX- Using Animation To Enhance User Experience. She gave a quick overview of the 12 Principles of Animation. Michelle explains the uses of animation and how to use animation responsibly.

More resources on animation

How do you choose the right font?

Fonts come in all kinds of styles. With so many to choose from, it can be hard for a developer to know where to start. Your brand and voice are identifiable by your colors, photos, other design elements as well as the fonts that you choose.

How do you choose the right font?
Photo by Florian Pircher from Pixabay

Use these following tips to help select that fonts that enhance your design.

1. What type of personality matches your brand’s tone?

Are you Traditional, Reliable or Respectable? If so, you want to choose traditional fonts like Butler, Georgia or Times New Roman.

How about Contemporary, Modern or Progressive? Try modern fonts like Simplifica, Raleway or Prime.

Or are you Strong, Bold or Stable? Strong fonts like Glamour, Code or Nexa might work for you.

Maybe you want to convey Elegance, Vintage or Romance. Try handwritten script fonts like Allura, Sofia or Pinyon Script.

If those don’t fit you, you may need a more custom or unique font. Stylish fonts like Butch or Moon may work for you.

2. Is the font easy to read?

Do you have to concentrate to read the words? If you are getting exhausted trying to reading the font, then your customers will too. You want them to be able to read without any effort.

3. Does it look good in different situations?

You want to choose a font that looks no matter what you do to it. When you bold or italicized it. It should be easy to read when large and small. Some fonts look better on top of photos. Your brand colors can affect how readable the font is.

4. Do the fonts look good together?

After you have chosen the type of fonts that convey your personality, you want to pair fonts that compliment each other. You’ll need to decide how your headlines, content and calls to action will look like. Pairing fonts can be challenging. You can learn the basics for choosing fonts that fit your personality.

You can use these additional resources for pairing fonts:

Where can I get fonts?

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