How and why motion design strengthens UI

4 min read
Corinne Nicewick
  •  Jan 9, 2019
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Coming from a graphic design background—including all the illustration, hand-lettering, dye-cutting, and brainstorming involved—from a distance, UI and web design appeared to be tedious and boring.

Until I realized that UI isn’t boring at all. It’s about philosophy, creativity, and branding.

There’s layouts, structure, sitemaps, and aesthetic…but those are the fundamentals for building a world from a blank slate.

Something like this.

Once that sank in, the possibilities seemed endless.

UI designers have the opportunity and resources to educate their users in a way that can be enjoyable and memorable, immersing them in information instead of simply letting them skim through the site looking for what they need. This gives the user a reason—and desire—to learn more, allowing them to continue exploring and playing.

An explanation vs. a conversation

What’s the distinguishing factor between a source of information and an experience? How do you turn a one-sided explanation into a two-sided conversation?

Related: The art of conversation in the age of bots

Conversations and experiences both have elements that pull the user in, get them involved, and integrate them into the discussion at hand.

It’s important to remember that beautiful websites and apps aren’t always engaging. The user may come in, absorb the beauty, but find nothing else worth sticking around for. Or, worse, leave more confused than they were when they started.

Dynamism, engagement, and responsiveness

Dynamism, engagement, and responsiveness: these are the elements that build the bridge and turn the design into an interaction.

Related: Measuring the value, meaning, and engagement of your morning coffee

When the user does something that creates a reaction—in this case, triggers an animation—using the product becomes an adventure, rather than a demonstration.

It’s as simple as the difference between petting a cat and making a cat purr. Your actions create a validating response, letting you know that you’re affecting something.

The vast majority of us learn best with hands-on experience—which is something that most definitely applies to getting your message across to your users. Interacting with content in the reactive way that motion design provides gives users more to hold on to, so to speak—and definitely more to come back for.

The takeaway

Implementing animation and interaction into UI design may be a whole other monster to tackle, but it’s a game-changer that should be harnessed whenever possible. It’s not just about the beauty; it’s about making the user happy.

Want to learn more about motion design?

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