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Mobile App Animations To Juice Up Mobile UX

Looking for a way to level up your mobile app animation? Discover various types of UI animations and their meaning.

Mobile App Animations To Juice Up Mobile UX

How to create mobile applications that not only engage users but also leave a lasting impression. The quest for a seamless and captivating user experience often leads to a crucial element: animations. 

UI animations make static screens live a little. All the micro-interactions, tiny responses from the interface, and transitions do a great job of blending the ways real things behave with a digital realm. Most of the time, we attribute usability to pleasurable functionality but we never go too deep into what makes functionality enjoyable.

If you’re among those seeking to elevate your mobile app’s user experience but find yourself drowning in animation choices, you’re not alone. Here, we’ll go through the types of animation for mobile apps and where the boundaries of improving the UX are.

What UI animation represents

Every physical object moves. They might be still technically, but to the environment, they all move. As the Sun moves over a stone in the woods, the game of light and shadows enlivens the dead stone. Our eyes capture movement because it bears a lot of information. In UI/UX design, it would be a shame to leave that info unaccounted for.

Animation is the first thing we see in the product along with color, images, and typography. These four main contributors to a brand’s or a product’s personality.

So, the animation in UX design is:

  • Illustrative. It demonstrates the functionality or helps people understand the app better.
  • Amusing. Value is expressed in many ways. Positivity is one of them.
  • Familiar. We expect certain reactions from certain actions. Animation familiarizes.
  • Engaging. We tend to follow patterns and animation is a great source of those.

The reason to integrate mobile app animation depends on the goal of that specific interaction.

Why add UI animation

Capture attention

Attention is a subject of marketing. Here, the animation is about making people get something out of the brand elements, relate to the company, and establish trust. That’s easy to do when the logo animation speaks a certain dynamic. Is it warm and cozy or energetic and perky? Why make people guess when you can show it right away? More so, the logo animation can tell a story while the rest of the app is loading:

Animation Types To Juice Up Mobile UX | Shakuro

Homely – Logo Reveal by ◒ Unfold | Eddie

A great way to kick off the relationship with the app is by saying what the brand means and how it wants you to feel about it. This is not a banner ad flashing type of attention. It’s the why pressed through the most powerful channel of perception – vision.

Deliver feedback

Animation in mobile apps magnifies the satisfaction you get from successfully performing a task. The more complex the task, the more rewarding it should be. Motion is how we convey the mood and provide feedback for the user’s actions. Such animation can cover the time needed to complete the technical request or form submission. It shows a user there is work going on and appeals to the natural feeling of completion.

Animation Types To Juice Up Mobile UX | Shakuro

Loading 2 Done motion icon by 十圆 QCee

The purpose of this UI animation is to direct users in a way that helps them. For example, a file sending gone wrong does not have to be a pop-up with an error code or a “whoops” type message. There is enough frustration going and we should take some of it away by showing our care with a meaningful motion graphic.

Animation Types To Juice Up Mobile UX | Shakuro

✨error ✨ by Cindy Suen

We animate the feedback to make sure a user gets it. This is the functionality. But we do it in a way that reassures or delights them so that regardless of the operation success, people will feel taken care of.

Show progress

Most processes have designated patterns that people recognize and expect. At the same time, with a variety of devices and screen media, it’s extremely challenging to maintain the same behavior with a lesser estate. This means dividing certain processes into comprehensible bits while mapping the entire progress.

This is how Google addresses a rather complicated and long process of copying information to Pixel 3:

Animation Types To Juice Up Mobile UX | Shakuro
Since this is a smartphone, you won’t be able to just switch to a different tab and keep yourself busy with something else. Still, you have to know what exactly is happening and why it is important.

Provide navigation

Mobile app animation does not always have to hide the process in the back. It works just as well as a navigation facilitator, especially when the application structure is too complex to show on one screen. You can animate the layered architecture to demonstrate the hidden parts:

Animation Types To Juice Up Mobile UX | Shakuro

Tab Bar Interaction XVIII by Oleg Frolov

Show changes

Interaction is based on impact. UI animation can light up the impact by reacting to a user’s action in a way that conveys meaning. When you touch an element, you change it, that’s the point of the tactile experience. (10Animation Types To Juice Up Mobile UX | Shakuro

Micro Interactions Navigation by AirStarz

This visual activation is a system response before a user even takes an action. It is crucial for conversion because this motion is natural, and does not require any input other than just presence.

Enjoy the fun

Sometimes animation for mobile apps does nothing but make you smile. When done right and in a timely fashion, this is a great engagement booster. Fun-driven animation has to appear where it’s either not expected or where it can’t do harm. That’s because even the coolest loading mobile animation can raise frustration if it stands in the way of an important task.

Animation Types To Juice Up Mobile UX | Shakuro

The Box Family by Tony Babel

There’s a fine line between fun and annoying and it’s crucial to find the spots where we can relieve some tension by dropping in some motion:

Animation Types To Juice Up Mobile UX | Shakuro

Having fun with ratings by Buzz Usborne

This is where you use all sorts of faces, stickers, mascots, and cute things. A little fun is always a nice way to add life to the app UI and show the human side of the product.

Notify the user

Notifications are a slippery subject because they need to arrive at the right time. Otherwise, people will get irritated and swap them away. For UX designers, this is even harder. Once the notifications are muted, the app is likely to follow this silent road to obscurity.

Apart from the extreme contexts, most notifications help people stay posted about the things they need: delivery status, weather, reminders, etc. With the help of meaningful UI animations, we can tune into that mental space and create a functional element:

Mobile app animation for notification

Notification by Jon Anto

Mobile app animation trends

Mobile app animations are always influenced by UI/UX design trends and technology advancements. When working on your project, keep in mind these tendencies:

  • Navigation gestures: In the next years, navigation gestures will level up and simplify user interactions, streamlining app navigation. Gesture-based controls will likely become more intuitive. So think about connecting your animations with gestures.
  • Mobile-first design approach: There are around 6.92 billion smartphone users worldwide. That equates to 86.29% of the world’s population. So design your UI animations to make the best use of the available screen space.
  • Futuristic colors: use bold and futuristic color palettes in mobile app design. These colors can evoke emotions, convey brand identity, and create a visually striking user interface.
  • Complex color gradients: moving complex gradients add depth and sophistication to interfaces. This trend is all about using colors to create a visually engaging and aesthetically pleasing user experience.


UI animation is a huge part of modern UI/UX design and digital design agencies widely use this approach to spark the user’s interest and provide feedback. Animation is not a decoration: it’s a crucial means for connecting with your target audience. With the slightest movement, you can guide the user to a necessary feature, make them smile, show changes, etc.

Do you want to design a mobile app with eye-catching and meaningful animations? Contact us and let’s build a functional digital product.

The article was originally published in July 2019 and was updated in January 2024 to make it more relevant and comprehensive.

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Written by Mary Moore

January 01, 2024

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