A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Website Animation

Billions of websites flood the internet today. In an effort to stand out amongst that clutter, many web designers are turning to a variety of unconventional tactics that have the ability to pull people’s focus and keep them from hitting the back button on their browsers.

One of the most popular tactics that designers are using to achieve those ends is website animation.

As its name suggests, website animation is when certain elements on a web page move.

If you’re interested in learning more about website animation, if it’s right for your needs and how to go about rolling animation out on your site, we’ve compiled some excellent information for you in our ultimate guide below.

What Is Website Animation?

We’ve already touched on the basis of what website animation is. It’s a technique by which people are able to make elements on webpages move.

Going deeper, website animation is a technique that leverages a variety of “under the hood” technologies including HTML 5, JavaScript and Flash Animation in an effort to boost user engagement and raise online conversions (sales, subscriptions, etc.).

You’ve likely seen website animation used as early as the late 90’s in the way of flash content. Since then, the technology behind online animations and techniques have become significantly more sophisticated.

Common Ways That Website Animations Are Used

Now that you have a good grounding in what website animation is, let’s talk a little bit about common applications when animating websites. There are 4 reasons why animations are used most frequently in web design.

While these 4 examples are by no means comprehensive, they should give you a good idea of where animation application might be most appropriate.

Hovering

On many webpages, when users hover over objects, those object move. Movement is typically communicated in the way of zooming-in or flipping over to reveal additional information.

Progression

Progression animations are perhaps the most historic of all website animations. When waiting for something to load on a website, we see animations in the way of spinning wheels, hourglasses filling up or numbers increasing up on the screen.

Menus

Because of the mobile revolution, collapsible menus have become very important to the way that websites work. On almost all mobile sites, you need to click a button in the upper left-hand corner of your screen in order to prompt a website’s navigational menu to animate-in.

Page Transitions

When you select menu items on a web page, in some cases, websites will animate-in new content rather than loading up a separate page altogether. These on-the-fly content transitions bring a modern motif to sites that leverage the technique.

What Programs Can You Use to Create Website Animations?

Are you sold on the idea of implementing website animation into your site? If so, you’re probably wondering how you can go about implementation.

There are a handful of ways that you can explore website animation. We’ve ordered the following suggestions by degree of difficulty.

Content Management System Native Animations

If you use a content management system like WordPress, the vast majority of templates that you purchase will have website animations built-in. You may be able to toggle on or off these animations depending on your template in its settings.

Google Web Designer

Google has free web design tools that allow you to achieve basic animations. This program is by no means robust but it is relatively easy to use and can help you get started with adding interactive elements to your site.

Adobe Edge

Adobe has a wonderful website animation tool called Adobe Edge. Edge allows you to build incredible interactive elements for your website that can be used for things as simple as page transitions or as complex as building full-on interactive video games.

HTML5/JavaScript

Every program that facilitates the creation of website animations is just a graphical front that’s translating your inputs into code. If you know how to code by hand, you can circumvent a program’s graphical front and write animation code yourself.

Doing this provides you with by far the most flexibility but also presents a tremendous learning curve.

Is Animating Websites Worth It?

Before you jump headfirst into website animation with all of the new information that you’ve just learned, as with all new workflows, a good designer should ask themselves if animation on websites is worth it.

There’s no universal right or wrong answer here since a variety of personal factors affect the outcome of the question.

The better question to ask yourself is what you want to do with your website and whether or not animation helps you achieve that end.

Never have animation on your website for the sake of having animation. Use it instead as a tool that makes your digital products more effective at whatever their intended goals are.

Wrapping Up Our Beginner’s Guide to Website Animation

Website animation is an exciting medium that can bring new dimensions to online products. These dimensions can increase user engagement and lead to more online sales.

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should though.

Many people have gone overboard with website animation and have consequently distracted from their website’s goals. At the end of the day, you’ll need to weigh your unique needs to see if website animations will either support or hinder what it is that you’re looking to achieve.

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