Motion helps make UIs alive and easy to use. Despite having so much potential, motion is conceivably the least accepted of all the design disciplines. This may be due to it being one of the newer associates of the UI design family.

Visual and alternation design dates back to early GUIs, but motion had to wait for modern accouterments to render action smoothly. The overlap amid UI motion and acceptable action also muddies the waters.

A lifetime can be spent arrive Disney’s 12 basic principles, does this mean UI motion is analogously complex? People often tell me that designing motion is complicated, or that allotment the right values is ambiguous. I argue that in areas most important to a UI, motion design can and should be simple.

Where to start

Motion’s primary job is to help users cross an app by illustrating the accord amid UI elements. Motion also has the adeptness to add appearance to an app with activated icons, logos, and illustrations; however, establishing account should take antecedence over adding expressivity.

Before coil your appearance action skills, let’s start with designing a strong motion foundation by absorption on aeronautics transitions.

Transition patterns

When designing a nav transition, artlessness and bendability are key. To accomplish this, we’ll choose from two types of motion patterns:

  1. Transitions based on a container
  2. Transitions after a container

Transitions based on a container

Elements like text, icons and images are aggregate inside containers

If a agreement involves a alembic like a button, card or list, then the alteration design is based on activation the container. Containers are usually easy to spot based on their arresting edges, but bethink they can also be airy until the alteration starts, like a list item with no dividers. This arrangement breaks down into three steps:

1. Animate the alembic using Material’s accepted easing (meaning it speeds up bound and then gently slows to rest). In this example, the container’s ambit and corner radii breathing from a annular button to a rectangle that fills the screen.

2. Scale elements in the alembic to fit to width. Elements are pinned to the top and masked inside the container. This creates a clear affiliation amid the alembic and the elements inside.


Animation slowed down to allegorize how elements are scaled and masked inside a container

3. Elements that exit during the alteration fade out as the alembic accelerates. Elements that enter fade in as the alembic decelerates. A seamless conjuration of hand effect is accomplished by fading elements as they move quickly.

Animation slowed down to allegorize how elements exit and enter using fades

Applying this arrangement to all transitions involving a alembic establishes a constant style. It also makes the accord amid the start and end compositions clear since they’re linked by the activated container. To show the adaptability of this pattern, here it is activated to five altered compositions:

Animation slowed down to allegorize how the start and end compositions are linked by the container

Some containers simply slide in from off screen using Material’s accepted easing. The administration it slides from is abreast by the area of the basic it’s associated with. For example, borer a nav drawer icon in the top left will slide the alembic in from the left.

If a alembic enters from within the screen bounds, it fades in and scales up. Instead of activation from 0% scale, it starts at 95% to avoid cartoon boundless absorption to the transition.

The scale action uses Material’s deceleration easing, acceptation it starts at peak acceleration and gently slows to rest. To exit, the alembic simply fades out after scaling. Exit animations are advised to be subtler than entrances to focus absorption on new content.

Animation slowed down to allegorize how containers can enter with a fade and scale animation

Transitions after a container

Some compositions will not have a alembic to base the alteration design on, like borer an icon in a bottom nav that brings the user to a new destination. In these cases, a two-step arrangement is used:

  1. The start agreement exits by fading out, then the end agreement enters by fading in.
  2. As the end agreement fades in, it also subtly scales up using Material’s deceleration easing. Again, scale is only activated to the entering agreement to accent new agreeable over old.
Animation slowed down to allegorize how transitions after a alembic use fading and scaling

If the start and end compositions have a clear spatial or consecutive relationship, shared motion can be used to reinforce it. When abyssal a stepper basic for example, the start and end compositions share a vertical sliding motion as they fade.

This reinforces their vertical layout. When borer the next button in an onboarding flow, the compositions share a accumbent sliding motion. Moving left to right reinforces the notion of advanced in a sequence. Shared motion uses Material’s accepted easing.

Animation slowed down to allegorize vertical and accumbent shared motion

Best practices

Given their high abundance and close ties to usability, nav transitions should about favor functionality over style. This isn’t to say they should never be stylized, just be sure style choices are justified by the brand.

Eye communicable motion is usually best aloof for elements like small icons, logos, loaders, or empty states. The simple archetype below might not get as much absorption on Dribbble, but it will make for a more usable app.

Animation slowed down to show altered motion styles

Choose the right continuance and easing

Nav transitions should use durations that accent functionality by being quick, but not so fast that they become disorienting. Durations are chosen based on how much of the screen the action occupies. Since nav transitions usually occupy most of the screen, a long continuance of 300ms is a good rule of thumb.

In contrast, small apparatus like a switch use a short continuance of 100ms. If a alteration feels too fast or slow, adjust its continuance in 25ms increments until it strikes the right balance.

Easing describes the rate that animations speed up and slow down. Most nav transitions use Material’s accepted easing, which is an absurd easing type.

This means elements bound speed up and then gently slow down to focus absorption on the end of the transition. This type of easing gives animations a accustomed quality, since altar in the real world don’t instantly start or stop moving. If a alteration appears stiff or robotic, it’s likely balanced or linear easing has been afield chosen.

Animation slowed down to allegorize altered easing types

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