Animations are often thought of as a trend of the early web. This is because many developers discovered animation techniques. But few bothered to learn when and why to use them. Yet in many situations, animation is still helpful. This is true in church websites, social media and mobile applications. Here are situations where you should consider using animations.
This article focuses on animation in websites and applications. Yet I will mention social media briefly up front. I suggest the occasional use of animated .GIF files. They draw the eye very well as users scroll through their timeline. Be careful not to overuse them. Your church’s posting should not be a long line of crazy animations. Keep them tasteful, and share some laughs with your audience.
The most common use of animation after an action is the spinner. The famous spiral animation that lets you know you need to wait. The purpose is to let the user know they completed an action. But now they must wait. It is also a request that the user not take additional actions. A similar animation is the progress bar. This countdown to completion is helpful if the action will take longer than a few seconds. We are used to fast computers and connections. We need reassurance that no errors occurred.
These subtle animations let us know our action was successful. The most common scenarios for this are submit actions. I know you can do this without animation. Yet animations such as fades and transformations are less jarring. Plus the motion is more eye catching than abruptly appearing and disappearing.
It is wise to break up a large task into smaller parts. Consider the checkout process for eCommerce. After all fields have data, the “Next” button has a slight animation. It might move, sparkle, change color, or change in size. This prompts the user to move on to the next step. This can apply to other places in your digital ministries. Some examples are filling out forms, and longer articles broken up over several pages.
You can also use animation to highlight a feature. One example is adding an item to a favorites list. When clicked, the item flies up to a button labeled “Favorites”. This way the user knows where to find all their favorite items. It is not disruptive, and helps new visitors understand your features. Plus, more experienced users will also see it as a form of confirmation animation.
Prompt for Action
Finally, there are times we must ask a user to take action. This of course should be used sparingly. We might think that drawing attention to a “Sign Up Now” button is good. Yet users might feel it is too forceful. It is viewed as a pushy salesperson. A good scenario is if your call to action is at the very bottom of a page. Let them read everything first, then highlight your action. Or if you have a screen that recently changed. Consider a landing page with information about an event. But registration has a limited time window. The page is important and should be up all year round. But when you allow registrations, put a subtle animation on the newly enabled button.
Examine the task paths in your various digital properties. See where you can use animations to make your visitors experience better. Help them explore and interact with your content. Test your updates with a wide variety of users. Use them sparingly to communicate the most essential actions. Also, a word of caution. Some disabilities and medical conditions have adverse reactions to viewing animations. Keep them in mind when you create your transformations. Too much, too fast, can be detrimental to the experience.
Photo courtesy of Marcello eM