5 min read

Landmark Transitions in User Experience Design

The latest transitions in user experience design have a clear and logical purpose. They are brief and subtle, helpful and communicative. 

The following article not only introduces designers to the various transitions in UI/UX design but also to their roles. With this understanding, designers can make the products more interactive. Before we move on to the various transitional designs of digital products, let’s understand the role of UX design

It communicates feedback

Sometimes users don’t see a static visual feedback option. For instance, when an animated navigation food menu slides over the page after a user taps on the hamburger icon ensures that the users see feedback. 

It communicates changes 

Transitional design can be used to indicate that the interface has changed to a different state. For instance, loading indicators on the site page indicate to the users that the system is not yet ready and has not accepted input.

It encourages a signifier 

Transitions in user experience design help users understand how to interact with UI elements. For instance, when a card expands from the bottom of the screen towards the top, it indicates to the user that the card can be closed by pulling down, or when a card slides from the right of the screen, the user understands that the card can be closed by swiping to the right.

It grabs the user’s attention 

Human eye is more sensitive to animated or moving elements than static. As such, animated UX design can be used to attract users’ attention through subtle signifiers. However, the moving elements may at times also get overwhelming and disrupt the user’s process. 

In such instances, it would be unethical to use transitional design to needlessly draw away the user’s attention to something that doesn’t add benefit. 

To summarise, some of the must-have features in design digital products are that they need to be quick, intentional, natural, associative and responsive. 

Important Transitions in UI/UX Design

1. Animated Scrolling

As opposed to traditional website scrolling with static images, text, or other graphics, animated scrolling, is a feature in which content elements move when users scroll down a website page. Animated scrolling is different from fixed background scrolling in which the background elements are static while the components on the website move. 

Designers and developers have begun to use this UX design, because of its many positive features such as the following—

  • Moving or animated text is more eye-catching to users than static text. 
  • It saves page load time. With scroll animation, individual elements load first and users don’t have to wait for entire web pages to load. As such, developers can also choose which information pieces need to appear first depending on the user’s goals. 
  • It highlights the CTA option. Scroll animation can specifically be used to draw attention to specific content on the site. 
  • Smart animation encourages the user to take the ‘next step.’ 

2. Show and Hide Animation

It is easier for users to understand the content if the site pages are structured in a particular order. For instance, when a user changes into another content view, the old content is hidden or disappears in ‘fade-out’ while the new content appears through the ‘fade-in’ transition. 

Furthermore, with this transition in UI/UX design, all content elements do not appear in the viewport unless the user scrolls through them. They appear from bottom to top with a slight delay.

Such animated page views with an organised arrangement of elements, and timing improve the interface by creating a subtle flow.  

3. Overlay

Overlay is a powerful transition in user experience design. Drop-down menus, slide-up keyboards, notifications, and tooltips are all examples of overlay that help the user by displaying additional information without leaving the user’s current process. 

Furthermore, overlays are especially useful for security approvals, error reporting, data capture, and supplemental interactions. 

However, although they are informative, they can also be frustrating. For instance, overlays that offer explanations, help text and offer other support stuff for complex UI enhance user interaction. On the other hand, overlays in form of advertisements, or pop-ups can be frustrating, especially when the user is trying to exit the page. 

4. Transitional Toggle Menus

Toggle menus like the “plus” symbol indicate to the user that content can either be added or expanded. However, by rotating the plus symbol by 45°, it changes into a cross, which indicates the user to “close.”

Even such tiny transitions help users to understand the pace and flow of a user interface. The subtle transition in the toggle button entirely changes the conceptual meaning of the button. 

5. Animated Affordances

Animated affordances

This is one of the key elements in design digital products. Affordances are cues that help users to interact with an interface, guide users with the knowledge and simplify their interaction flow. In other words, they hint to the users on how they may interact with a digital content element. 

There are different types of affordances in UI based on their presentation and performance. For instance, animated affordances used in an alarm app when it is switched on indicate several changes such as the colour of the tab and the toggle or an animated sun is activated. 


With the many creative possibilities of transition in User Experience design, it is easy to get carried away. However, overusing the transitional designs may become obtrusive, overwhelming and distracting for users. Therefore, the key is to understand the purpose of the UI/UX design. It has to be subtle and eye-catching which enhances usability and interaction. 

In the end, the purpose of transitions is to design a smart and pleasant product that helps users to navigate. It’s exactly what Steve Jobs said about design, “It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Published by Harikumaran SM

Sr. UI Designer


Harikumaran SM Sr. UI Designer