Designing for Interaction: How Animated Prototypes Revolutionize Website Development

By Sarah Love, Senior Designer

Flat, static websites are a thing of the past. A modern web experience is defined by motion, interactivity, and dimensionality.

When designing website layouts, designers aren’t just placing text and media into fixed positions; they ask themselves questions like,

  • What happens when you hover over an image or scroll down the page?
  • What transitions are triggered when you click through the navigation bar, and is the content on the page immersive and engaging?

This new design thinking requires new tools and techniques. Animated prototypes, like the one below, have quickly become indispensable to the North Street design process.

 

An animated prototype is a clickable, scrollable, hover-capable layout that communicates how the website will behave inside a web browser — all before the site is ever built!

These high-fidelity animations ease the design process, allowing designers to experiment and make informed decisions about interactivity. They also help our clients understand our vision for the site.

Successful Design Process

One of the core benefits of using animated prototypes is that designers get the chance to work through their design before it is built by developers.

This exploration phase allows designers to see what elements are and are not working. By bringing a static design to life, we can enhance a website’s usability and better understand what the final product will look like.

Here is an example from a recent website design project, which shows how the prototype was adjusted between R1 and R2.

 

 

To reap maximum benefits, designers can even include design animation as a core component of usability workflows. This addition helps ensure that every element of your site’s layout and navigation is functional and enhances your end user’s experience.

Streamlined Decisions

Animated prototypes aren’t just assets for designers. They also help our development team make streamlined decisions about building web interfaces and the potential roadblocks they might encounter along the way.

With animated prototypes, expectations are set upfront; this enables consistency and intentionality throughout the entire dev build.

Lifelike Mockups

Last (but certainly not least!), animated prototypes help bring websites to life so clients can connect with the design before it’s complete.

The idea of presenting animated prototypes is no longer shiny and new in the design world – they have come to be expected as clients look to see how designs will come to life through motion and scrolling effects. Would you buy a new car without taking it for a test drive first?

 

 

Ultimately, all successful design teams are looking for client approval and buy-in, and animated prototypes help secure that early on by telling the narrative of a website.

How We Create Animated Prototypes

While there are many different tools on the market to create your prototypes, we use Principle for its informed automation and sleek integration with Sketch, our preferred UX/UI editor (FYI Principle also boasts a built-in integration with Figma).

Principle features a birds-eye view of artboards, “magic animations,” and a timeline that allows for fine-tuning and customization of each animation. And to showcase our finalized designs, the record feature enables us to easily export a video or animated gif with the tap of a button – with or without hover state functionality.

 

Interested in learning more about animated prototypes and why they’re crucial to the success of a website design project?  We’d love the opportunity to chat!

About north street

We engineer the thoughtful transformation of great organizations. Our proven process helps us understand what your competitors are doing right — and wrong. Want to learn more? Let’s chat.

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