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Should you use Motion for a better User Experience?

Motion is one of the more recent additions to design and with advances in hardware for mobile devices it is being seen more often. But just because more people are trying it, does that mean it is a good direction to go? We really think it is, so let’s discuss why you should use motion for a better user experience.

The Idea of Motion

What is motion from a web or app design standpoint? A few years ago motion was accomplished by using Flash, which basically made things into little movies. Although interesting to look at, they did not add any functionality and could actually hinder a user.

Step forward a few years and designers have tried JavaScript and jQuery before moving to CSS3 animation which with modern browsers and technology advances, can render complex animations and movements.

Some of the best recent uses in motion can be seen on the iOS operating system. When you tap an icon, the app actually grows in size until it fills the screen. Or conversely you could say that you are jumping into the app. In either case, from a user standpoint it shows a direct transition into the app. There are many new mobile sites and apps that use a similar concept such as a scrolling menu on the bottom with panels that expand to full screen, or flip boards that flip open and expand.

The Value of UI

User interface is a very popular idea right now for good design firms. There is an understanding that the better a user interface you can create, the easier that it is for any user to understand and navigate what you have created. This lends itself directly to the overall user experience, which in today’s world has a certain standard most users have come to expect in their devices, websites and apps.

We consider the user experience to be any and all aspects of a person’s interaction with the device including the interface, graphics, physical design, physical interaction and even the instructions. A good designer looks to enhance the user satisfaction level through improving the overall usability, ease of use, and most importantly pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the device or app being used.

Customers appreciate a good user experience which in turn can spike the popularity of any site or app. Conversely a bad user experience can created a rush of bad reviews for an app which can then cause a flat-line in popularity.

How Motion benefits the UE

So why is motion important from the perspective of the user experience? Basically it is because it makes it easier for people to understand computers because of a better interface that is directly related to properties people commonly know!

Think of the example earlier of the iOS and how perspective changes. That concept of the app growing following more of what we as humans expect from our reality. “I tapped on that and it grew like a flower on steroids. When I am done it shrinks back to what it was.” That makes sense to us especially compared to tapping an app and suddenly a full screen image of the app’s launch page snaps into place without any sort of transition. Everyone understands the idea of shrinking and growing or having a scroll list “bend” a little when you pull on it like it was a real object.

What a designer can do with motion is convey context, meaning, orientation and more to a user, thus heightening the user experience as actions make more sense to us as humans. This is different than the “learned” aspect many of us have about an interface where we know that an “X” will close something or an “–>” will flip a page because we have been taught that as we learned how to use devices.

Context, for example, is an excellent tool which with motion can be used in the small space of a mobile device. Currently many things snap open a new view when tapped on, something that shows no context. With motion you can tap on an item and the item’s picture can move to stay with the transition, whether it is providing more information in a now expanded info box with the same item image in the corner, adding it to a shopping cart, or whatever. By doing this you see the context of the action in a natural way we intuitively understand.

It can even be considered more playful and fun which makes an app or site more engaging!

Orientation is another vital aspect of the experience. By showing how objects come on and off the screen, or come into focus, we are aiding the flow of actions. This is another way that clear guidance is provided to keep a user oriented in a space which reduced the need for additional graphics to show a user where they are or have been.

The Bottom Line

The great thing about motion is that it helps interfaces utilize ideas and concepts that are familiar to everyone, regardless of sex, race, or background because users are familiar with them from everyday life. When done properly it can create and emotional response in the form of comfort, excitement or fun as well. That is why yes, you should use motion for a better user experience.

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