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'2. No one cares about animation.'
Useless animations are useless. If you think of animations as simply adding a bit of visual flair, then absolutely, your time is much better spent elsewhere.
However, there are also 'world class' products that work great in big part because of their animations. The best example of this is iOS and macOS.
The animations in iOS add context and create a sense of spatial awareness within the environment. Things don't simply appear and disappear out of nowhere. They come from somewhere and they go somewhere. Just like the world we live in.
Take as an example the simple interaction of opening an app from the home screen and going back to the home screen. It might seem obvious that the app icon actually expands to fill the screen and becomes the app, and goes back into its place in the home screen. As if it's really the same object. It's as if you're picking up an item and bringing it closer to your eyes. This is an extremely deliberate design choice.
These interactions make intuitive sense to humans, because it is consistent with how the rest of the world around us works.
I do understand your point, that without a product in the first place it's hard to be successful. At the same time, I don't think that adding in animations that help the user understand the context of your application should actually take that much time to do in the first place. And it is exactly the type of thinking that "animations add no real value to our product" that also holds us back from achieving that with better tools. When was the last time you used a web app that had anywhere close to the same fidelity of animations as iOS?
As an example, I've seen few (if any) web apps that animated items entering and leaving a list. This has been standard in iOS for years. If you delete an email from your inbox, it doesn't instantly reload the list. This would mean that the user now has to reorient themselves. This increases cognitive load. I don't believe that is the best use of your users energy.
If Apple replaced that with an instant reload of the list or some sort of fade-in and fade-out of the list, I think most of us would be a little bit confused as to why.
So if we can accept that this is bad user experience, why are we fine with the same, or worse, happening on the web or anywhere else really?
It's true that good user experience doesn't always correlate with business success, and yes, some products are successful despite their bad user experience patterns. But surely as designers and engineers, we should strive to provide a better experience and push our craft forward? And yes that is hard now, because we don't really have great tools for it. Building User Interfaces still takes too much time in my opinion. Adding sensible animations should also not require that much effort (especially looking at you, ReactJS).
The right approach in my view is not to say 'this is hard, and lets not do it.' My strong belief is that we should strive to push our craft forward and strive to build better user experiences.
Thanks so much for this thoughtful comment. I wholeheartedly agree with you that animation is important, and can certainly improve the user experience. iOS is a great reference point because the animations disappear into the background...they're not just flair for the sake of being flair.
In articles like this, I tend to exaggerate a little bit knowing that readers will dilute the insights and takeaways anyway. A polarizing statement like "animation doesn't matter" tends to stick with you longer, and in the long run, hopefully makes you more thoughtful during execution.
Designers at our agency use animations in their work all the time, but never before finishing a page. I think that was the biggest point I was trying to make, and from your comment, it seems like you got that :)
Thanks for adding to this discussion! I hope people come across your comment and give it a read through. Nice work.
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