We’ve all visited websites that were a chore to use. Whether it was difficult or cumbersome to navigate, hard to determine where to go next, or simply boring to look at, for most of us, a poorly designed website is just as bad as no website at all — or even worse.
While there are a million and one ideas on how to improve the usability of your site and drive more traffic in the process, one method that’s often overlooked is animation. And that’s too bad, because adding animated elements to your site design can vastly improve the user experience. And thanks to easy-to-use animation makers, adding these elements is not nearly as difficult as you might expect.
Usability Factor #1: Site Loading Speed
At first blush, you might think that adding animation to your site is only going to slow down the loading speed, which you never want to do. However, using animation can actually disguise slow loading times by giving the viewer something to engage with while they wait. Try loading the page in pieces, using skeleton screens, or using transitions to keep users’ attention while the page loads.
Usability Factor #2: Navigation
Animation can help users navigate your site more clearly. For example, try expanding forms to show users where to go and what information will be required next. Animated scrolling is another useful technique to help users remain on track. This is especially useful when clicking on something – for example, the contact button – doesn’t take the user to a new page but rather further down the same page. With animation, the user realizes that he or she is still on the same page, and isn’t confused about how to get back to where they started.
Animation can also be used to provide information as the user scrolls through the page. Hovering over spots that lead to a pop-up with more detail can be useful to help users get the most from the page, and know exactly where to go to find it. Ideally, this shouldn’t require the user to complete any additional actions, but should happen automatically in the course of their navigation. For instance, if you have several tiles leading to different functions on your site, when a user hovers over the tile, an animation could reveal more information about what will be found there.
Usability Factor #3: Feedback
One complaint that users often have about websites is that they aren’t always sure that their actions are leading to the desired results. In other words, they need feedback to know that they are on the right track or that things that are happening are supposed to be happening. In the simplest sense, this could be adding an animation to indicate that something is processing, such as we commonly see when we place an order with an online store.
However, animated feedback could also include a notification that an action was successful, or a warning not to do to something on the site; for example, if the user tries to submit a form twice, an animation can notify them of the double submission. Animated feedback helps prevent user frustration, and keeps them engaged with the site.
Usability Factor #4: Draw Attention to Where It Matters Most
You undoubtedly have certain information that you want to highlight for your users — and ideally, that should align with the purpose of the site. Use animation to draw attention to that content. The eye will naturally be drawn to the motion, and with the right animation, you can draw attention away from the typical pattern (left to right) and to other areas of the screen. This helps you direct user action, and when you align the animation with the user’s primary purpose, increases satisfaction with the site.
Animation can accomplish a number of important things for your website. It can make it more entertaining, help your audience learn more about your company and products, and help support your brand. However, in addition to all of those important tasks, animation can also significantly improve the usability of your website. Don’t be afraid to add an animated element or two to your site, and see for yourself how it can make your users happier.