In an excerpt from her book The Mobile Frontier, published on Smashing Magazine, Rachel Hinman talks about how animation and movement is becoming a new mobile design material. (In fact, I think much of her article can be applied to web design as a whole, and not just mobile.)
I love this idea, that animation is a design material (like typography or colour) rather than a piece of content.
Take Pixar for example, they may be the first company you think of when someone mentions animation, but they don’t make animations, they make films. Or, more broadly speaking, they tell stories. They just happen to do it using animation.
Similarly, on the web, I don’t want to make animations, I want to make websites. I believe that when used carefully, animation can improve both usability and user experience. As Rachel puts it…
The addition of movement to a [web] experience can provide clarity, information about context and, frankly, a dash of joy and fun.
If you’re interested in animation on the web, I recommend that you read Rachel’s article A New Mobile UX Design Material.