How to Use Animations in Your Mobile App

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Mobile app animations occupy an important place in the design of the whole user experience of an app. They are great for communicating a message and creating a feeling by not limiting the method with static images or texts. The dynamism that in-app animations inherently have makes the user journey more vivid and delightful. Thanks to that, an animated app can achieve higher user engagement rates. 

However, just like any other user interface design element, mobile animations should be functional and not just decorative. Your users’ opinions about your app are directly related to how animation is used in mobile applications. 

If this is intriguing enough, keep reading. In this blog post, you will find the most popular app animation types and how animation is used in mobile applications.

 

Why You Need to Use Animations in Mobile Applications

As briefly mentioned above, animations can do wonders in mobile apps for a variety of reasons. See some of them below:

  • Animation for apps aims to improve user experience and interactions. Overall, a great app animation boosts your app.  
  • If used properly, animations increase usability without taking too much screen space. 
  • They smooth the interaction, provide the user with feedback, and create accurate and actionable expectations. 
  • With animations, you can show creativity and reach originality. 

However, keep in mind that animations can be distracting. Also, their loading time may frustrate app users. So, you need to have them in your app smartly.

Types of Mobile Application Animations

1) Marketing Animations

Mobile animations are very frequently used to increase brand awareness. For example, mobile app owners can animate their logos, mascots, and splash screens to use them in different parts of an app. For instance, Netflix animates its logo and shows it at the beginning of each movie or TV show. Also, merging a marketing animation with audio is a valid option especially considering the rise of audio in recent years. 

Besides visually attracting the audience, an animation also helps your brand build an emotional connection with them. Whenever they see an effect or hear a voice, they might think of your brand instantly.

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Image: Behance, An animated splash screen

2) Animation in Onboarding

You can have only one first impression. Hence, it is crucial to ensure that your new user onboarding is terrific and engaging. This is the key to convince your newbie users to keep visiting the app. Therefore, you need to be really careful about onboarding animations.

To guarantee a successful onboarding journey, you can use animations at the onboarding stage. For instance, you can provide a quick tour of your app, show the main features, or what to do next. App 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.

3) Feedback Animation

Feedback animations inform mobile app users whether they successfully completed a particular action. In other words, they make it evident to the user if they could achieve what they intend to do. Thanks to this form of user experience animations, users can navigate through the app more easily. 

Feedback animations imitate the interaction between the user and the mobile phone. With animations, your users can have similar sensations of pressing an actual button when they touch a button on your app by changing its color, size, or shape.

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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.

4) Animation for Visual Hints

Mobile animations and interactions can also provide the user with visual hints about the result of the following action. Especially if your mobile app’s navigation is heavily gesture-based such as Tinder (swiping left, right, and up leads to the next action), animations improve 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.

5) Progress and Loading Animations

Some in-app actions may take some time. During the waiting process, animations help app 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. For instance, you can show your users an app launch animation while they are opening th app.

Progress animations can 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.

6) App Transition Animation

Animated transitions in your mobile app make the interactions smoother and add style to your user interface. Good transition animations facilitate the flow in the app for the user by visualizing the change. They feel natural to the users and connect elements.

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

7) Animated Function Change

This type of animation in mobile applications 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. To enable your users to keep using the app without any hassle, you need to introduce these function changes to them with animations.

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

8) Notification Animation

App notifications increase the engagement in the app by attracting the users’ attention. Mobile apps prefer to send notifications to their existing users to alert them about the updates. 

To have a successful approach to the app notifications, you need to make them striking and eye-catching. Hence, it is excellent to use a mobile UI  animation that can easily attract the user and inform them.

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Image: Muzli

9) Navigation Animation

Most mobile applications have complex structures, which often limits the interaction between the user and the product. To avoid this, the designer should keep the mobile app as simple as possible. The user should know where to find what, so that interaction will increase. Animation in mobile applications can help the designer a lot in this regard.

Image: Muzli

10) 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

Final Thoughts

As you can see above, there are various uses of animations in mobile apps. Unobtrusive and engaging animations can help improve the user experience by easing interaction and communication. They make the user interface smoother. However, be careful while using them. If used inappropriately or too often, they can distract and even frustrate users. Remember that your mobile app’s priority is always to provide value to the user, and animations should serve this aim.

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