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Bring Your Brand to Life With In-App Animation

Does figuring out how to increase user retention for your app keep you up at night? It’s one of your biggest responsibilities, after all. The good news is you can rest easier when you leverage motion — aka animation — to augment your in-app user experience. And an improved in-app experience equals a higher user retention rate. 

From guiding new users to celebrating user achievements, animation can take on many roles inside your app. That’s why numerous brands already rely on animation tactics like UX motion and motion branding to engage their customers. 

But not everyone grasps the true breadth of the benefits of implementing animation for their brand. That’s why we’re here. What follows is a comprehensive look at the benefits of using animation inside your digital application, the types of motion graphics you should consider, and tips on developing an app with animation. 

Advantages of In-App Animations 

The overarching benefit of using animation in your mobile app is better user retention. Your customers are simply more likely to stick around if your in-app experience is exceptional. And animation is more likely to give your app that leg up. 

Specifically, apps that include motion result in:

  • Better user engagement. By nature, animation makes apps more interactive and visually appealing. A widget that moves demands user attention in a way a static image just can’t. Users are more apt to hangout in your app if the experience is captivating. 
  • Improved communication and storytelling. Text and static visuals alone cannot convey complex ideas or processes as effectively as animation can. Motion takes users on a journey through a sequence of actions or events, making it easier for them to digest the relationship between elements in your app. 
  • More memorable brand identity. Integrating animation into your brand’s visual identity goes a long way to creating a unique and memorable experience for users, which sets you apart from your competitors. 

Animation Types to Support Your Digital App

There are three primary ways you can imbue your app with motion to engage your users. Understanding each is the first step to deciding which type(s) of animation are right for your brand. 

1. UX Motion 

This first animation direction, UX motion, is perhaps the most all-encompassing; it can touch many different parts of your app. UX motion is the specialized interaction between the user experience and motion design. It consists of the planning and execution of animations to increase usability, communication, and overall UX. 

Basically, UX motion is animating the user experience. You can animate various elements of the user’s journey, including: 

  • Celebratory moments. UX motion allows you to animate progress within an app. Maybe a user has just completed a task and a little check mark dances on their screen. In the healthtech space, setting movement goals and then adding a celebratory animation when a user achieves them is a great way to keep them coming back for more positive reinforcement — a la the Apple Watch
  • Loading. Everyone recognizes animation that signifies an element is “loading.” The MacBook’s spinning rainbow circle comes to mind. From an app perspective, loading animations make waiting an experience. One that’s perhaps pleasant. Maybe even informative! Your user may not even feel they were waiting to begin with.
  • Transitions. Motion is essentially inseparable from transitions — or how elements get on and off the screen. Animating transitions keeps users more engaged than a boring single cut and improves the overall navigation flow of the app. 
  • Microinteractions. Small-but-mighty moments for motion make all of the difference in pleasing your users and highlighting actions. That’s where microinteractions come in. Add motion to parts of icons or buttons, or even highlight what users can interact with inside your app. 
  • Feeback. Animation can be informative and provide users with better and faster feedback than text dialogs. Think about the side-to-side movement of the little dots on your iPhone lock screen when you get your passcode wrong — that’s an animated feedback. And it’s memorable! A single feedback moment can turn into a great opportunity to create an experience. 

There are many opportunities for UX motion in your app. You can even animate what is basically the core of your entire app. Motion systems are being widely incorporated into larger design systems. They’ve become key in translating system principles into how elements move inside an app. The Audi Motion System is a prime example. It translates the experience of driving an Audi into the animation curves present in their app. 

2. Onboarding Animation 

As we said, animation helps explain even the most complex concepts and directions simply. So it only makes sense that animation is used as a person is getting up and running on an app. That’s onboarding, or guided, animation. 

Onboarding animation is impactful because it not only shows first-time users how to use your app, it makes it memorable. That way, they can access all of the features and benefits your app offers — and they’re more likely to repeat use. 

You can also use guided animation to explain certain functions within your app so users never get stuck and frustrated midway through their journey with your product. 

Headspace does a fantastic job animating instructional aspects of their app. For one, they use animation to educate users about mental health conditions. They even go so far as to include sensory-based animation to guide and calm users. 

3. Motion Branding 

Motion branding is a strategic approach to incorporating movement, animation, and other dynamic visual elements into your brand’s identity to foster engagement and create a more immersive customer experience. 

Cutting-edge brands just aren’t static anymore. People interact with brands on a wide range of screens, so breathing more life into brands through a motion-based identity is (almost) mandatory. 

All to say, it’s no longer enough to consider how your brand will behave amid certain animations. You must also think strategically about how your brand itself will interplay with time and space. 

Tips to Successfully Implement Animation for Your Product

Regardless of the type of motion you’d like to use, there are some universal tips that can help your brand get started with in-app animation:

  • Apply your brand principles to your motion projects. Be sure whatever brand “rules” you have carry over to the animations you create. 
  • Be consistent. In-app animation should be consistent in terms of how animated objects behave on screen. The duration and easings (acceleration and deceleration) of each movement should also remain relatively the same. Consistency is important because it makes your app easier to use and solidifies your brand identity, as every element has a similar look and feel. 
  • Keep it simple. There’s a difference between animation for advertising and animation within an app. The former can be exaggerated (there’s actually an animation principle that says it should be) because you’re explicitly trying to sell something. But in-app animation is more successful when it’s subtle and provides a smooth UX.  
  • Prioritize performance. Product leaders understandably worry that app performance will suffer if they embed an animation. But a quality motion studio will know how to plan and deliver animations that bolster your user experience without sandbagging your performance.
  • Test and iterate. Testing is always a crucial part of guaranteeing everything is working as it should. Animation studios specializing in the tech arena both produce the creative and monitor its performance. 

If you can’t quite conceptualize these tips, no worries. An animation studio can always keep your project on track for you. 

With Animation, a More Successful App Awaits 

Motion matters for the in-app experience. And with this guide, you now have options for incorporating it into your product. Let animation elevate the user experience of your app — and the reputation of your brand.

Felippe Silveira
Felippe Silveira
Co-founder & CEO at MOWE Studio