“Animation can play a huge part in making ideas and interfaces easier to understand,” says interactive designer Chris Gannon. “In a world where everyone is in a hurry and time is short, animation can convey complex ideas in a short amount of time whilst at the same time engaging and informing.”
Bruno La Versa, senior digital designer at Lightful, agrees. “Storytelling and personality is something that new and old brands are working on in order to capture users’ attention, and animations are starting to play a bigger role in this,” he says. “Animations have shown and will continue to show the brand’s strength in our digital world, giving a strong personality to the brand, making it less static and more dynamic,” says La Versa.
So what specifically in animation are we going to see more of in 2018? Animated logos is an obvious trend, and one that gives a company a big opportunity to enhance their brand further. However, getting it right is a major responsibility. “It’s a visual representation of the company in a tiny space and if it’s a good logo it packs in a lot of meaning,” Gannon explains.
We’re also seeing the return of the GIF – partly thanks to the fact that basic animated GIFs can be read by almost anything. “It seems the world is ready (and indeed is crying out for) animation of everything, whether it be comedy loops of cats falling off tables or adding a sense of fun to the logo in your email signature,” says Lee Fasciani, founder of Territory Projects.
So what has caused this enthusiasm for animation? Well, the volume of creation tools now available to designers has played a big part. “Many of these tools are aimed at designers, developers or other non-animators and have interfaces that are designed to simplify the complexities of building them,” says Gannon.
“This opens up the playing field to more and more people and allows them to experiment with animation. This is pretty huge because historically non-animators have steered clear of the animation part of the project.”
Mireia Lopez, creative director at digital creative agency DARE, also noted how these tools are helping to blur the lines between design and development. “We’ve see design teams animating, prototyping and learning neat coding to use more intricate prototyping tools in order to communicate concepts to clients and explain digital journeys to developers,” she says.
When you combine the availability of such tools with browser improvements it’s easy to see why animation is going to be big in 2018. Today’s browsers are exceeding 60fps, even on vector formats like SVG and mobile.
As with any trend it’s important not to include it for the sake of including it – it’s got to be right for your project. “We all have a responsibility to our audience to choose when and when not to use animation,” warns Gannon.
“Does it enhance or otherwise contribute positively to the experience? My heart sinks when a client approaches me saying they want to ‘sprinkle animations all over our app’. Shoe-horning an animation into a design rarely ends well because the animation has no purpose other than to titillate.”
But there’s no arguing – when it’s done well, animation can transform a good project to a great one.