How to Use Animations in Your Mobile App

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Just like any other user interface design elements, app animation should be a functional element and not just decoration. The animation in your mobile app aims to improve user experience and interactions, and a great app animation boosts your app.  

If used properly, animations increase usability without taking too much screen space. Animations smooth the interaction, provide the user with feedback, and create accurate and useful expectations. With animations, you can show creativity and reach originality. However, keep in mind that animations can distract the user, and their loading time may frustrate the user. 

In this blog post, you will find the most popular app animation types and how they are used.

Marketing Animation

You can use animation to increase your brand awareness. In many cases, mobile app owners use animations in their logos or mascots and splash screens. Besides visually attracting the user, animation also helps your brand build an emotional connection with your user.

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Image: Behance, An animated splash screen

Animation in Onboarding

Onboarding stages are an opportunity to make the best first impressions.  You can use animation at the onboarding stage to provide a quick tour of your app, show the main features, or what to do next. Animations ease the understanding and decrease the complexity of learning how to navigate.

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Image: Dribble, Design by Divan Raj. Animated app onboarding showing the main values of the app.

Feedback Animation

Feedback animations inform users whether they successfully completed a particular action. They make it obvious and clear to the user. Feedback animations imitate the interaction between the user and the mobile phone. With animations, your users can have similar sensations of pressing a real button when they touch a button on your app by changing the color, size, or shape of the button.

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Image: Tubik, Cinema App. When users press the desired seats, the seats change color so that the user understands they were able to choose the seats. After payment, the user sees that the familiar “checked” mark signifying that the process was finished successfully.

Animation for Visual Hints

Animations provide the user with visual hints about the result of the next action or how they can interact with an element. Especially if your app’s navigation is heavily gesture-based such as Tinder (swiping left, right, and up leads to the next action), animations increase the user experience by bringing smoothness and decreasing the chance of user mistakes. 

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Image: RubyGarage, Tinder provides visual hints with animations by making swipes alive and informative.

Progress and Loading Animations

Some in-app actions may take some time. During the waiting process, animations help users understand what is going on and what the progress is. They assure users that their inquiry is taken into action and now being processed, which improves the user experience.

Progress animations san entertain the user (remember Google’s offline dinosaur?) or calm them during the waiting process. You can use animated progress bars, timelines, and other dynamic elements to create some original features.

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Image: Dribble, Design by Supi. An animated loading screen showing the progress.

Transition Animation

Animated transitions in your app make the interactions smoother and add style to your user interface. Good transition animations smooth the step from one page to the other by visualizing the change. They feel natural to the users and connect elements together.

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Image: Tubik, Animation visualizes the connection between the pie chart and bars

Animated Function Change

This type of animation is best used when you need to show the user how the function of an element has changed. It is mostly used with buttons, icons, and other small design elements.

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Image: Dribble, Design by Serhii Hanushchak. The animation illustrates that the function of the hamburger button has changed.

Notification Animation

App notifications attract the user’s attention to increase the engagement in the app, to alert about the updates, or simply to upgrade the app. An animation that wouldn’t disturb the user can easily attract the user and inform them.

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Image: Muzli

Storytelling

You can use animations in a mobile app to tell a story. With stories, you can easily convey the message or a feature of your app to the user.

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Image: Muzli

Unobtrusive and engaging animations can help improve the user experience by easing the interaction and communication. They make the user interface smoother. However, be careful when using animation. If used inappropriately or too often, it can distract and even frustrate users. Remember that your app’s priority is always to provide value to the user, and animations should serve this aim.

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