Animated Prototypes in Web Design

Flat, static websites are a thing of the past, and so too are the flat, static design comps your agency shows you during the design process of your new website.

By Sarah Love, Senior Designer

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’re asking themselves questions like, “What happens when you hover over an image, or scroll down the page? What transitions are being 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, and so animated prototypes have quickly become an indispensable part of the North Street design process.

An animated prototype is a clickable, scrollable, hover-capable layout that communicates how the website will actually behave inside of 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.

What else are animated prototypes good for? Lots of things:

Successful Design Process

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of using animated prototypes: designers get the chance to work through their design before it gets built by developers.

This allows designers to see what elements are working and what ultimately needs to be scrapped. By bringing a static design to life, we’re able to enhance the usability of your website and get a better sense of what the final product will look like.

 

To reap maximum benefits, designers can even include design animation as a core component of usability workflows. This 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 how web interfaces should be built and the potential roadblocks they might encounter along the way.

They allow expectations to be set upfront, allowing for 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 automations and sleek integrations with Sketch, our UX/UI editor of choice. (Author’s note: 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 individual animation.

And to showcase our finalized designs, the record feature allows 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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