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How to Use Animation to Improve Mobile User Experience

Updated: May 21, 2022

In UX design, application animations offer one of the main objects for discussion as well as endless creative space. In this article, we'll cover how to use animation in mobile app design to ensure positive user experience and seamless interactions.

Since everything is integrated into one interface, application animations should be a functional element rather than a decor. Motion elements should be considered from the very beginning of planning a user journey. When designing animations, you need to analyze their impact on the usability and desirability of the application. If you don't see a real positive effect in the end, you should reconsider the approach. The advantages and benefits of action in the interaction process should be clear and outweigh any potential negatives. Let's review the most popular types that are well controlled to improve the mobile user interface.

Heartbeat Animation Concept for tab bar interactions

Feedback Animation

Feedback animation notifies the user that a certain action has been taken or failed. This type of animation maintains the communication line between the user and the application, even with basic operations. In a special way, it imitates interaction with real objects in the physical world. For example, when you press a real button, you feel the force spent on that action and the resistance of the button. In a mobile app this is not possible: you just touch the screen and you have no such physical feedback. Therefore, by interacting with the sensor screens, we handle vibrations and visual cues to get response from the application. And this is when UI animation saves your app. Animated buttons, switches, checkmarks or crosses quickly inform the user if an action has been taken.

For example, streaming of Cinema App's ticket purchase interactions. The transition from the screening screen to the seat selection is done by the animation of the movie poster: the screen turns into a picture of the movie theater. When the desired seats are pressed, the user can see how the buttons change their color and understand that the system is accepting the data. The animation of the checkmark indicates the completion of the process:

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

Another example can be seen in the interactions of the Watering Tracking app: after watering the plant, a user presses the button and changes the image from the drops to mark the required action:

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

Even with basic navigation, mobile UI animations can add not only feedback but also fun. Let's look at the concept of an expandable button: in a pinch, it mimics the physical interaction with a jelly-like substance:

Examples of feedback animation in the Event App application concept. When the user taps on the photos of the participants, the central circle changes the overall number:

Progress Animation

If the interaction process is a little longer and users have to wait, they prefer to understand what's going on and where the progress is. The biggest advantage of this animated interaction is to provide reassurance to users, making them conscious and confident in the process of using the product. A confident user means a positive user experience and provides a good basis for high user retention. Animating progress bars, timelines, and other dynamic elements can mean hitting several birds with one stone.

  • Inform the user about the progress level.

  • Provide an element of fun that reduces the potential negative waiting experience

  • This could become a viral feature that is uniquely and elegantly designed that users will want to share with others and get more users to take action.

Below you can see a timeline applet: the waiting process is supported by animated graphics with the transition from day to night, while the button shows the progress in numbers:

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

Here's another example: A catchy and eye-catching animation of a pie chart reflecting the completion of tasks in the Task Tracker app. Another screen also features a special animated illustration for the welcome screen to make the user experience positive from the first seconds:


And here is the set of animated interactions with user progress graphs on the stats screen in the Challenge App:

"Loading" Animations

This may be one of the most used types of mobile animations. It can be defined as a subtype of progress animation as it notifies the user that the loading process is active. There are different variations such as loaders, preloaders, pull animations to refresh.

Here's an example of pull-to-refresh in the Slumber implementation: pulling down the tab for new episodes, a user is waiting and sees a light animation of a loading wheel; this makes the animated illustration wait time less tedious, while the library refresh continues:

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

And here is a ready-to-refresh animation with custom theme graphics for the financial app concept:

Here's another example of loading animation for the search process in the Fitness app, making the waiting process clear and good-looking:

Remarkable Animation

This type of animation improves UX quality when users interact with your app. It supports the overall visual hierarchy with motion that grabs the user's attention and directs it to necessary details. In this way, it saves time when scanning the entire screen layout and makes navigation more clear and intuitive.

This interaction set for the Tasty Burger app has an animation for the price change. It adds life to the process and makes it natural. Moreover, with gestures, it instantly draws the user's eye to essential information in this way and gives a hint of what to look for:

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

Transition Animation

The animation of transitions adds style and grace as they interact and move from one screen to the next.

Here's a set of passes in the Perfect Recipes app, where users customize their recipe bases based on their goals and dietary restrictions. Switching between gesture supported target cards promotes positive user experience:

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

Here is a stylish Carfinder app design with beautiful and seamless animated transitions:

Still, all these processes are not just about beauty. In our article dedicated to conceptual UI animation for mobile apps, we showed examples of how animation of transitions can add the illusion of more space between elements, thereby making the layout airy and light, as in the example below:

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

Here is another example of creative animation for the transition process in financial application concept when user comes from pie chart to list view record and color markers: animation closely interlinks the connection between screens and data visualization and allows users to see this connection:

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

Promotion Animation

Clever integration of branding into UI design can play a huge role in increasing brand awareness. In most cases, it's the animation of logos, mascots, and the like, often effectively applied to splash (welcome) screens. Marketing animation in apps often focuses on drawing attention to the visual cues of the brand. Here is the animated logo created for Whizzly, an app for self-promotion of young talented people. Animation allows for catchy and designers to add lively emotional appeal:

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

Here is another example of an animated logo to add fun and dynamics to a bakery's web promotion:

Animated Notifications

Notifications are signs that draw users' attention to updates in the app. Supported by unobtrusive animations, notifications become more prominent, increasing the chances of users not missing important information. Below you can see an example of such a UI element in the Home Budget app: the notification is featured not only by bright color but also by gesture imitating vibration:

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

Scroll Animation

Swiping is one of the typical interactions we are used to in both web and mobile interfaces. Animation adds beauty and grace to the process, making it stylish, original and harmonious. Note that scrolling can be applied in different directions, not only vertically, but also horizontally, as in the Photo App shown below:

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

Another example of beautiful scrolling is implemented in the Gallery app:

And here's how the scroll looks engaging with an animated background in the Quotes App:

Storytelling and Gamification

Mobile apps are one more reason to use animation: animations look like a story or part of a game. Animated stickers, badges, awards, mascots - these are just a few ways to make an application interface interesting and lively. For example, here you can see animated stickers for Mood Messenger that reflect various emotions: using them adds a strong emotional appeal to the user experience:

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

Benefits and Pitfalls of UI Animation

Designers implementing animation in a mobile app should analyze both its positive and negative effects on app interactions. We have prepared a short checklist to assist you in the decision making process.

Among the advantages of motion for mobile applications, we can mention the following:

  • Saved screen area

  • Increased availability

  • Originality

  • Comfortable and easy interaction

  • Ability to perform multiple functions simultaneously

  • Speeding up interaction processes

  • Providing clear feedback to the user

  • Establishing necessary expectations.

On the other hand, among the disadvantages that designers should consider:

  • Loading time

  • Distraction factor

  • Technical realization that takes time and effort.

Mobil Kullanıcı Deneyimini Geliştirmek İçin Animasyon

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