Master These Animation Tips: Best Practices and Examples

Animation as a skill is both an art and a science. The science, of course, involves the technical know-how that enables you to bring your vision to life. This knowledge is relatively easier to attain as you have several rules set in stone, which when followed give you a specific result. 

However, art, just as always, deals in the gray areas, where there are no clear rules or guidelines. 

But we have managed to extract a few basic animation tips that will help you make some sense of this highly subjective field of animation. Keep reading to know them all.  

Table of Contents

  • Don’t animate everything
  • Never forget the beauty of easing
  • Minimize your stagger intervals 
  • Ensure your animations align with your brand identity
  • Test your animation on different devices 

Don’t animate everything

With great power comes great responsibility. You need to know when you need to use your powers and when to refrain from them. So, just because you can animate something doesn’t mean you should.

Your animations very often need to be aesthetically pleasing, witty and exciting. But its meaning should never be lost in a confusion from excessive movement of elements. 

You need to resist the desire to show off and instead focus on being clear and concise in your execution. This way you can ensure that your animations support and complement the interface and are easy to understand. 

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Never forget the beauty of easing

In the real world, objects never move with a constant velocity. They accelerate into their motion and slow down before coming to rest. Thus, you need to create the same effect in your animation so that it doesn’t come across as odd. 

You need to use the animation principle of easing in and out to make sure that all of your movements have a smooth and natural acceleration and deceleration.   

An ease-out should be used for objects entering into view, i.e., they should slow down before they stop in their final position. Conversely, an ease-in would have the object accelerate into its action.

Thus, for an object moving from point to point, the object should move in a loop of easing in and out, as it causes the object to both accelerate into the action and slow down before the halt. You can achieve this effect by adding more frames at the beginning of the movement, fewer in the middle and more at the end again. 

Minimize your stagger intervals

Staggering is a common effect used to create an interval between a bunch of sequential items.

However, the interval between such animations is often found to be longer than required. This creates a sense of discontinuity and presents each of the elements as an individual entity.

So, the stagger interval should be minimal, going as low as 50 to 100 milliseconds. This time gap might seem too short to be noticed but the delay is quite noticeable.     

Furthermore, you should never avoid using a stagger interval, as it makes the whole animation appear to be a single comprehensive item instead of a fluid series of components. 

Ensure your animations align with your brand identity

While creating your animations it can be tempting to incorporate your vision of an appealing design. However, this may take you away from the brand’s identity and need. 

For example, adding your favorite color to the design might light up your eyes but it might not go with the brand’s existing color palette. 

Since most brands don’t have specific animation guidelines, it gets easy to deviate from their static identity. Thus, you should always be careful while researching the brand, its values and identity. Try to gather as much information as possible to figure out exactly what ‘fits’ the brand.    

Test your animation on different devices

Using a developer’s system, a common mistake is to assume that the animation will behave similarly on every device.

In reality, the quality of the devices used by developers is way different from that of a typical user. Thus, it is crucial to test your animation in different conditions. 

The easiest way of testing is to enable CPU throttling in the browser dev tools and run your animation again. For a smooth experience on different devices, try avoiding animations that force layout reflows. These operations prove to be costly, as the browser needs to reassess the positions and sizes of elements that are affected. A great way for avoiding reflows is to stick to animating only two properties: “transform” and “opacity.”

However, animating too many elements is never a great idea, even if you are using only ‘opacity’ or ‘transform’ properties. Because the more elements are moving, the more it overloads the browser.

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So, some simple animation tips for you include- less is more when it comes to animation, easing and stagger intervals help create realistic and intuitive effects. Also, it is advisable to not get carried away with your personal choices and ensure that your animation matches the brand’s identity. Finally, run several tests on multiple devices, because your animation might perform the same in every browser or on every device.