To Animate Or Not To Animate

In a technological era characterised by sensory overload, your content is required to constantly compete for the attention of your audience. With increased internet access and blossoming interest in Instagram and YouTube-based media, it’s clear that bold graphics and moving pictures are more likely to catch the attention of users, especially if they appear on social media in-between static posts by others.

Design and video are fast becoming inseparable elements, and when used together efficiently, they can serve your brand in ways that neither could do independently. Here is a look at how and why (or why not) to include animation in your website or social media posts, and on deciding whether animated elements are the right choice for your content.

Why You Should Use Animation

    1. Moving things are eye-catching.
      Simply having a digital presence is no longer enough to set your brand apart. While scrolling through scores of unmoving images, an animated post might be what prompts a user to stop and see what you have to say, while a static post may get lost in the crowd of a busy newsfeed.
    2. Video is more likely to retain an audience and secure engagement.
      According to a study on Wistia, visitors spent more than 2.6 times as long on pages with videos than without. Whether in the form of remotely-hosted content like a YouTube video, or animated and video content that is integrated into your page in the form of animations, or even cinemagraphs that simply make the page look more sleek and tell your story better, video and animation can help to ensure that your audience get the most out of your content.
    3. An animated post can convey information quickly and efficiently in less space.
      Can’t fit everything you need to in the few pixels you’re allocated for your social media post? Is all of your information simply refusing to conform to a square boundary? Kick out the JPG and usher in the GIF, because multiple slides, with the necessary information divided over them, can convey the information more easily. Many internet users only read 25% of the text with which they’re presented, so dividing your content into bite-sized chunks that loop in a GIF can make it easier for your audience to engage with exactly what it is you want to show them. Animation is a perfect tool to not only say more, but to be heard more.
    4. It just looks cool.
      There is something impossibly cool about a site that has elements which slide in and move around as the visitor scrolls through it. While not every site might be as narratively complex and engaging in its animation as this one, the use of similar animations contributes a visual interest to a site that is hard to attain using exclusively static imagery.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Animation

  1. This isn’t a junior school PowerPoint presentation.
    Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. While animation may be eye-catching and draw attention to your content, it can also go a step too far, and end up distracting from the details that your audience really needs. Not everything needs to spin or slide for your content to be a success, so make sure that animation is used in moderation to highlight the things that matter most, and create the most sleek and engaging user experience possible.
  2. Busy your content, takes longer load, and costs more to watch.
    How well do you know your audience? Are they likely to have access to unlimited wifi, or are they quick to navigate away from content that could cost them a fortune in data? It’s no secret that South Africa’s data costs are absurdly high when compared globally, so ensure that your audience won’t go running the moment they realise that your content moves.

Keep The Context In Mind

As with so many things online, there is no one answer for everybody. The same thing that works for one site or business might have the opposite effect for another. Keep in mind what you’re trying to achieve, and the context in which you’re trying to achieve it.

There are cases where animation is a great idea to improve your static content, and others where it just detracts from the message. Make sure you know which is which before you start animating everything you can lay your hands on.