Have you ever visited a website with crazy–and pointless–animations jumping out at you every which way? Have you been to said pages where they also commit the crime of allowing these atrocious animations to repeat ad nauseum? Of course you have. We all have, unfortunately. In today’s world, where any Joe Blow can create a web page or blog, there are literally millions of poorly devised websites out there just waiting for unsuspecting visitors to stumble upon them.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for animations and interactivity on the web. Absolutely! I recently tested out a wonderful high school level science unit on photosynthesis that used animations and graphics brilliantly and I truly felt I learned a lot from the experience, even as an adult. The key is that the animations: were carefully thought out and designed, were clear, followed a logical progression and added to rather than detracted from the experience. There really are some things that words can’t describe or at least that images can describe better or faster. Such was the case with the science unit where a single interactive animation took the place of hundreds and hundreds of words that would not have imparted the same knowledge, in the end (for the lack of interactivity which allowed me to create my own understandings).
In the end, it isn’t that animations are used–that seems inevitable these days–but rather HOW they are used that matters.