Adding an animation, whether it be flash, an animated gif, or a video clip, is a great way to grab a user’s attention on a website. It is also a way to give visual representation that may make understanding a concept easier than with just text or a static image. Motion from the animation will attract the user’s eye and will get them to at least notice it. What you want to convey when you get their attention is the key.
My first task in Flash here at DDA was actually to make a text item do a quick spin at set intervals. This was because it was a key link on the site and we wanted to make sure that people noticed it and knew where it was to click on.
Currently, we are using animation to get a message across more easily. We have some product spins on a site and we want to let the user know that these are available to view if they click. So we are adding little flash animations of an arrow circling some “360 degree” text. This grabs attention and gets the message across quickly and easily once the focus is on the animation. The alternative was just standard text which isn’t very attention grabbing at all in comparison.
Some animation, when carefully thought out, can add a great deal to your website in the area of usability. Try using them in your own site, but don’t overdo it either. Too much animation can actually add confusion. Aim for a delicate balance and ask yourself if every animation has a purpose before you decide to add it.