8 Types of Mobile App Animations to Enhance Your UX

9minutes read
mobile app animation

Animation is a dynamic visual form that is essential for human perception. Neither the text nor the static image can be compared with animation in terms of the power of impact. We concentrate on moving objects. That’s our biological feature. It would be merely unreasonable not to take advantage of this feature when developing a mobile application design. Animation is such an old and integral part of mobile apps that you’ve probably stopped paying attention to it. However, almost every button press and nearly every icon activation cause an animated system response. Most app animations are aimed at optimizing processes rather than creating aesthetics. Nevertheless, even they have their flavor. Moving elements give the feeling of interaction with real objects. Ideally, users should not even notice how the animation was used in the app interface. They perform it intuitively.

That’s why it’s essential to understand which type of app animation is best suited for implementing particular functions.

Why do you need mobile apps animation?

Mobile animation has a clear, logical purpose. It reduces the load on the user’s brain, prevents the user from missing any essential changes, and improves interface elements’ spatial relationships. But there is one more thing. Animation brings the user interface to life.

Ideally, the mobile app ui animation should:

  • Provide clear feedback in response to user actions;
  • Show system status to the user;
  • Guide and teach the user how to interact with the interface.

If you think animation is an optional feature that increases application load time and might only be relevant for mobile games, we have three counterarguments for you:

  • Animation reduces cognitive load;
  • Animation makes navigation easier.

Abrupt and illogical transitions from section to section in the appendix lead to the emergence of a perceptual phenomenon known in cognitive psychology as “blindness to change“. Such incoherent switching between navigation layers generates a lot of unstructured information, which the human brain simply cannot handle. As a result, the user completely ceases to understand the logic of the application interface. The app’s animation is exactly the tool that smooths out the changes’ effect, making them more transparent and understandable.

The main mobile animations types:

Based on our mobile design experience, we have identified the main types of animation for mobile applications and would like to share our observations.

1) Onboarding app animations

The animations in the app tell you how to interact with the elements. Therefore, it is essential to offer visual cues when an application has an unpredictable pattern between elements.

Once a user downloads your application, your main task is to hook and retain them. All users expect the design to be intuitive or provide hints to navigate and achieve the goal quickly. Use animation to show the user what to do easily. You can show visually how to use your application and show its primary functions. The most important thing is to make an excellent first impression that will remain in the user’s memory for a long time.

onboarding app animations
onboarding app animations

Onboarding app animation should:

  • show the user a quick overview of the mobile application
  • provide essential application functions
  • show what to do next using the application.

Using the animations, you will find that it provides a straightforward, intuitive design with step-by-step guidance on what to do next and correctly interact with the application.

By the way, do you know how vital onboarding is and how much it depends on the well-demonstrated app functionality and value to the user? Then read our article Effective User Onboarding: Top Proven Tips and Examples. Do not miss it!

2) Swipe animations

Visual responsiveness is a crucial UI/UX design feature informing users that the app responds to requests and functions correctly. Visual feedback is critical to any design. In the physical world, objects respond to our interaction with them. People expect the same from application elements. Visual feedback, as well as auditory and tactile feedback, gives the user a sense of confidence. Visual feedback also serves a straightforward function: it indicates that your application is working correctly! When the icon is zoomed in or the “swiped” images move in a particular direction, it becomes clear that the application is “doing something” in response to user input. Visual feedback is necessary to inform the user about the operation’s results. It is carried out in various ways.

The familiar “swipe-left-to-like-right-to-skip” approach of the mobile dating app Tinder is a swipe animation example.

example of swipe app animations design
example of swipe app animations design

3) Splash screen animation

Splash Screen – usually the first thing the user sees on the screen (in our case, a mobile phone). This is the image that appears when loading an app. So that the user is not bored when loading, diversify the splash screen with animation. Splash screen animations can distract users and make loading times shorter than they are. Moreover, the splash screen forms the first impression after the user downloads your application.

But remember that the splash screen:

  • It should be simple, with short, elegant animations to present your application;
  • Always remember the rule of 3 seconds. And if the splash screen takes longer, show the loading progress bar;
  • Download the absolute minimum of data from the server, but make sure you have all the information you need to display the next screen immediately.

Here is one of Dribbble’s splash screen animation example.

splash screen app animations
splash screen app animations

By the way, do you know what other screens must be present in every mobile application? Still not? Then read our article on 8 Basic Types of Screens in UI design.

4) Visual Feedback and Representation

Visual feedback is critical to any user interface. In the physical world, objects react when people interact with them. Therefore, people subconsciously expect something similar in mobile applications. Visual, audible, and tactile feedback gives the user a sense of control when using the app, while visual feedback indicates that the app works as expected. For example, if the button is enlarged when pressed or the picture moves in a given direction, it becomes clear to the user that the application responds to his commands.

In the example below, the user ticks the box when making a selection, the data block is reduced in size and changes its color to green.

The visual type of feedback also includes a technique with moving the image horizontally. For example, the user pushes the picture to the edge of the display, the picture disappears, and a new one appears in its place.

Here is our Gapsy Studio work, where you can see an example of visual feedback and representation animation.

example of visual feedback and representation app animations design
example of visual feedback and representation app animations design

5) Animated progress indicators

Convince users that everything is under control. Most users do not even know how many hidden processes are running in the active application and how long it takes for each of them. However, in some cases, it is necessary to know precisely at what stage this or that process is, be it downloading media files or updating an application. According to Mobyaffiliates, 71% of users believe it should take less than 3 seconds to load an app, and 63% of users quit an app if it takes more than 5 seconds to load. One of the oldest tricks that can distract the user from the grueling waiting while loading an application is to use custom animation worth the time.

As a rule, an animated element – a loading indicator – is a rotating ring, disk, or sphere. It seems that this was precisely the case when the bicycle was invented a long time ago. However, as our practice shows, the loading indicator has still a lot of room for design decisions.

Do you know this feeling when you are waiting for an important message or letter, refreshing the page again, and again, and again, and …? What could be worse? But it’s not so bad when the application has a custom animation for updating the message feed. A great option is to rethink the now-classic pull-to-refresh animation. Pull-to-refresh animation is indispensable when updating content on the page as an indicator of the application’s health. A visual response occurs immediately after receiving a request from the user, and the app animation shows that all data will be updated in a few seconds. As a visual illustration, we suggest you look at the Duolingo example. When the download process progresses in the application, you see an owl walking and saying some words in different languages of the world. In our opinion, this is an excellent UI design solution that combines pure functionality and a game element.

app animations with animated progress indicator
app animations with animated progress indicator

6) Meaningful Transitions

Screen transitions are an essential part of the design of any app. The interaction between all screens must be smooth. Animated transitions are very similar to flipping through a book in a reading app; smooth interaction and page-flipping give the reader the feeling of using a real book. Transition animations add style and fluidity to the interaction as you move from one screen to another. Animation is a great tool that helps connect each step and creates a complete picture of what is happening.

Smooth animated transitions in the application are needed for:

  • smooth change from one screen to another;
  • links between elements;
  • smooth transition from one screen to another.

Take a look at how planed the transitions from screens are using the example of this application:

app animations with meaningful transitions
app animations with meaningful transitions

7) Hierarchy of Elements

The app animation is ideal for describing parts of an interface and illustrating how they interact. Each element has its purpose and place within the animation. For example, if a button activates a pop-up menu, then the menu should appear from the button and not just float out from some corner of the screen: it will show the user the click’s result. This will help the user understand that the two items (button and popup menu) are related.

All animations in a mobile application should illustrate how the elements are connected. This hierarchy and interaction of elements are significant for an intuitive interface. This example shows that after clicking on the icon, a menu appears; from the user’s perspective, the menu is the same element, only enlarged.

app animations design with the hierarchy of elements
app animations design with the hierarchy of elements

8) Marketing animations

Cleverly integrating branding into user interface designs can play a significant role in building brand awareness. In most cases, this is the animation of logos and mascots, often used effectively for welcome screens. In-app marketing animation usually focuses on drawing attention to the visual cues of a brand. Animations can seamlessly incorporate your logo into a story, leverage your brand’s color palette, and convey your essence through every frame. The great thing about animation is that it allows your content to be as authentic as possible. App animation allows you to customize almost every element of your video, both for your target audience and for your brand style. As a result, you will have unique content that will set you apart from the crowd.

This is how we implemented one of the marketing animations.

example of marketing animations design
example of marketing animations design

Summing Up

Mobile app animation is a powerful tool when to hels users. It solves many functional tasks: making the interface alive and responsive to the client’s actions. Remember that you are telling a story to your users regardless of which application you’re developing. And animation can help brighten the story and convey the message much more effectively.

Still looking for a reliable design team to create awesome mobile app animations? Then don’t hesitate. Gapsy’s design team is ready to help you with this challenging task and create the best animation for your product. We have over 150 successful projects and a vast number of created animations in our experience. Make sure of this by looking at our work at Dribbble or projects at Behanсe. And to make sure that we are professionals, take a look at the services we provide. We will handle any of your assignments. We are looking forward to working with you to create new masterpieces.

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