Why does motion increasingly form part of modern day design? Firstly, thanks to better technologies and advanced browser capabilities complex visuals can now effortlessly form part of an interface without compromising speed and performance. Secondly, motion has a great impact on the mind!
Motion triggers the mind by attracting attention to a specific predetermined aspect and then engages viewers on a deeper level. This is done by movement in direct view of the user or by movement in peripheral view. The brain naturally turns our attention to whatever is new in our environment. Movement is perceived as “something new”. Therefore, movement on the interface tells the mind “pay attention” and leads the eye to a specific area on the screen, an area with important or relevant content.
On a superficial level motion simply serves to make the screen look nice and to captivate the user. On a deeper level motion serves a far more profound purpose: it enhances interface functionality and usability. Moreover, motion not only adds greatly to the user’s experience and understanding, but makes it easier to navigate screens.
Motion triggers steering. For example, motion may highlight important steps in a user’s journey, or it may draw the user’s attention to key content and prompt relevant actions. Motion may also serve as markers that the user can use to navigate screens. (The motion helps the user to form a mental map that can help to retrace steps back to a specific screen, or a specific bit of information.) And so, motion helps to orientate users and helps them to navigate the interface.
Motion triggers understanding – we understand better with movement that aids visualisation. With the help of motion information can effortlessly be conveyed in a clear and concise way. For example, data can be presented using a combination of text and moving shapes and colours to give life and meaning to complex concepts. What’s more, motion is used to make it much easier for the user to utilise the information on the screen, by clarifying the flow of action. This is achieved as motion draws the user’s attention to what is most important, what is essential and what is viewed as more detailed additional information. By doing so motion reduces the amount of mental effort needed to get to the crux of the matter! In simple terms, motion makes it easier to sift through information.
Motion serves to provide visual feedback. It may tell the brain that something is opening, or closing, or loading, or refreshing. This may be shown through the movement of a button or switch on the interface or some object moving, to indicate progress. This assures the mind and creates affirmation. Furthermore, delays in performance speed can be masked with the clever use of motion. As the viewer’s attention is drawn to entertaining movement, the waiting period seems to be shorter.
Motion, of course, has great potential to create a pleasant visual experience. It can make an interface attractive and pleasing. Motion triggers parts of the brain involved in the release of dopamine – a chemical that affects emotions and sensations of pleasure. Motion can also trigger a sense of adventure. When there is movement on the interface, we want to discover what it is all about. It makes an interface exciting, fun and as such plays an important role in user experience!
Motion comes in various forms. It may be moving shapes, moving text, moving colours. It may be illustrations or animation. It may be photographs that have elements of movement, or 3D objects, or simply video footage. The options are countless. Whether it is a visual effect or an animation, the use of motion is seen more and more frequently. And it is not merely used to make an interface look pretty. Motion helps to inform users, guide users, impress them and ensures a pleasant user experience. For an optimal experience, motion is a must!