Functional Animation

Word: Functional Animation

Definition: Animations that serve a design concept by supporting and enhancing the solution.

Thoughts: Everyone loves Pixar movies but Woody and Buzz have no place in your product. A great deal of effort and thought goes into product design and layouts. A good designer will be able to tell you the reasoning behind every detail and choice on the page. However, even the best of us sometimes get caught up in the “cool” factor of flashy animation, simply for the sake of it. Why do we put so much thought into elements like color, navigation, and content hierarchy, yet flash and dazzle is sometimes added in the end “just because”?

Designers should be able to clearly articulate the animation’s purpose towards the larger goal.

Reference: In this great article from Smashing Magazine, they call attention to the details designers should focus on when implementing animations. Essentially, in order to check yourself and make sure you’re designing with a purpose, focus on orientation, location, zooms, visual hints, highlights, visual feedback, and system statuses.

Moral the story is, it might look cool but if you can’t defend your design choices, it’s better to leave the idea on the cutting room floor.