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Designing Web Interfaces by Theresa Neil, Bill Scott

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Communication

Transitions are first and foremost about communication. Harry Marks, award-winning broadcast designer, stated:[43]

If you don't have a story, no amount of graphic trickery will make it interesting.

The story is the key. Transitions are for making the story more compelling, filling in the hard jumps, and making an action more concrete and believable. Transitions communicate in the following ways:

  • If an object fades away, users know it changed state from visible to invisible even if they are not staring directly at the object.

  • If an object fades into view, users know the object has arrived. It was not there but now is.

  • If an object fades rapidly, it is seen as an important event. If it fades slowly, its importance is lower.

  • If an object is "coming at" users (getting larger and appearing to go past them), then users think of it as something that is important (and perhaps dangerous).

  • If an object zooms down in size rapidly and disappears, it will capture the users' attention immediately.

Given the way transitions can communicate, what exactly do they communicate? They give us a way to:

  • Maintain context while changing views

  • Explain what just happened

  • Show relationships between objects

  • Focus attention

  • Improve perceived performance

  • Create an illusion of virtual space

Maintain Context While Changing Views

We discussed several techniques in Chapter 3 for creating a virtual space larger than the static page. An essential ingredient to pulling off this effect is the proper use of Transitions ...

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