The concept of web animation has been around for many years. Animation creates websites that are in motion instead of static, adding visual interest and grabbing site visitors’ attention from the moment they land on your page. You’ve likely noticed the trend where more and more sites use motion in their designs. While web animation isn’t necessary, it adds to the user experience, which helps with conversions.

The best way to fully understand web animation and what it can do for you is to look back at how it’s changed web design over the years. The early animations were basic, but today’s advanced, professional animations are full-on videos or elements that seem almost lifelike.

How Animation Has Impacted Web Designs

The first website arrived in 1991, and it was a far cry from the sites of today. From the early days of a simple text-only design to today’s fully animated options, design has grown by leaps and bounds. The first websites typically had a basic, solid-colored background with text on top. Later, tiled backgrounds featuring images became popular — let’s agree never to go back to that look.

The introduction of GIFs allowed designers to add features, such as a spinning logo and 360-degree turns that grabbed interest. People overdid it, filling up entire pages with animations, all competing for attention. Next came Flash, which gave designers the ability to fully animate various elements on a page. Today, web designers have the option to add video, animations and any number of other graphics that bring a website to life.

Web designs today are constantly changing with a variety of interesting trends. One could argue the first animation influenced who we are as web designers and how we approached design from that point forward. Everything else aims to perfect how animation enhances the user experience.

Where to Use Web Animation

Web designers have found many interesting and surprising ways to use animation. Have you visited a site lately where the background is one large video? There is a reason more and more people are incorporating video into their designs: It improves conversions!

Using video helps you improve your return on investment. Marketers who use video get 66 percent more qualified leads each year. Videos also improve overall brand awareness. Marketers seem to be in love with video, so incorporating animated video into your designs is a smart move.

Animation has also been effective in logos, in images to draw the user’s attention and upon landing on a page to draw the user’s attention to a specific feature of the site. Animations grab interest and hold it, so they are a smart addition to nearly any type of niche you could imagine.

Animations can also show interaction. For example, a user clicks on a button, which then fades away and gets replaced with text before displaying the linked page. Another option is to have the button or image change on a user action, such as hovering over the button.

Another way designers are using animations today is to reveal hidden info. Website menus are bulky, especially on smaller screens, so hiding it away under a hamburger menu or at the top of the page works nicely. The details only appear when the user moves over the area, which adds to the overall aesthetics and appeal of the site.

Benefits to Incorporating Animation in Your Designs

The benefits to incorporating animation into your designs are obvious. In addition to the aesthetic appeal, animations improve the overall function of your site. As mentioned above, hiding a menu allows mobile users to browse more easily without a bulky navigation menu getting in the way, but desktop browsers show the full menu.

Interactive content creates double the conversions passive content does. If you want to improve your conversion rates, investing in web animation is a smart move, even if you only create minor elements such as mouse-over reveals.

The key to gaining the most benefit possible from animations is to take the time to put yourself in the mind of the typical target audience member. What types of animations would convince you to click on a call to action or buy from the site? Then, conduct A/B testing to figure out which animations work for your site visitors and which don’t.

Improve Your Site

Animations are another way to stand out from your competitors. They show you are on the cutting edge of design and technology, and that you understand what users want. While it does take time and resources to develop animation, you can start slowly and add the features you feel work best for your site a little at a time.

Visitors are more likely to hang around your site if you engage them with animations. An animated video presenting information is more likely to hold consumers’ interest. Visitors stick around longer, which improves your overall retention and return rates for users.

Animations add yet another type of content to your site, which allows visitors to find you through additional channels. Anything you can do to drive targeted traffic to your site improves your bottom line.

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A Few Words of Caution

Animation eats up website resources, and if your server lags behind, it can lead to a website that loads slowly for some users. Page load time has a significant impact on your bounce rate. If a site takes more than three seconds to load, you risk losing 50 percent of your site visitors.

Anything you can do to improve your load speeds results in happier site visitors who stick around longer and come back more frequently. Run speed tests whenever you add anything new, such as an animation feature. Make sure the site still loads quickly for everyone, including mobile users.

It’s essential to create a balance between the added benefits of animation and the cost of slowing down page loading speeds. Is it worth that new video you uploaded? Can the site provide a video that won’t slow down visitors on slow connections?

Is Animation Necessary?

Web animation isn’t essential, but it is important. You can add a lot of interest and drive leads through videos and other elements on your page. However, you can also drive away visitors through slow load speeds and other issues. It’s important to strike the ideal balance between animations and load speeds. Test your site, and everyone should be happy with the changes.

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About the author

Lexie Lu

Hello! My name is Lexie and I have a fervor for design, writing, and coffee. I graduated with a dual major in Creative Writing and Commercial Design, and through those grueling study hours (facilitated by coffee, of course) I always found time to write for myself.

My posts feature design trends throughout all industries and show how the field is always changing. There’s never a dull moment in the design world!

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