Animation as a usability feature 14:19 on Thursday

Animation can often be distracting, but it can also increse the feel and perceived responsiveness of an UI. For instance, animation can enhance the sense of position and continuity when used with scrolling.

For some reason Nokia engineers (or managers?) have decided to implement smooth scrolling on the Nokia N90, but not where it would actually add value. So, flicking through a sequence of images happens with a fancy animation of moving thumbnail images. A sequence of images is not an inseparable whole the way a sequence of words is, and this animation doesn’t add much value besides looking cool. Text scrolling on the other hand is not animated anywhere in the interface (text messages, help screens, memos, etc). Text doesn’t scroll but jumps, nearly a screenful at a time, causing disorientation and initiating feverous “where was I” scanning of the displayed text.

More talk on using animation in UI from Gizmodo’s frog Design Mind.

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