Integrating scroll animations for elevated user experience: how and why it works

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22 Jan
2024
17 Aug
2023
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Animation is a great way to spruce up your website, making it look more captivating, modern, and memorable. In addition to that, carefully executed animations help focus users’ attention on the most important website parts. Each type of this visual effect has its own exclusive characteristics. In a way, scroll animations are similar to digital travel guides for any web page — ensuring users always know where to find the desired data.

In this article, we will share some insights about scroll animations and tell you more about their specific features. To present this info as clearly as possible, we will take a look at multiple examples.

The article will be helpful for website owners searching for trendy and appealing design solutions. And if you’re a developer looking to hone your skills in creating complex scroll animations, you should definitely check our second article, where we delve deeper into the technical side of creating animations.

[fs-toc-omit]Before we start…

Let’s think for a minute — what is more fundamental, form or content? Well, it’s a tough question, and the answer depends on the context A LOT. Speaking of sites, the first thing users note is, of course, decor elements and overall site aesthetics. The research conducted by Behaviour & Information Technology has shown that users need only 50 milliseconds to shape an initial impression about a web portal. This time is enough for people to decide whether they want to continue exploring the website’s content or surf the Internet for more catchy and relevant options.

Users form their first impression of a website almost immediately
Users form their first impression of a website almost immediately

According to Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility, 75% of users create an opinion about a company’s trustworthiness, primarily based on the look of its website. Skillfully presented visuality is not only an essential part of creating a positive first impression but also a key factor in earning users’ trust and loyalty.

Most users form an opinion about a website based on its appearance
Most users form an opinion about a website based on its appearance

When users find a website’s design relevant and tailored to their preferences, they are more likely to appreciate its content. For this reason, digital creators should always keep an eye out for new stylish design trends they can use in their work. Luckily, through this article, we’re aiming to acquaint you with one of the hottest trends in web development — powerful and dynamic animations your audience will definitely fall in love with.

Why you might want to add scroll animations to your site

Putting it simply, an animation is an element’s transition from one state to another. We may spot this design phenomenon when, for example, some site’s elements move, spin, get bigger or smaller, appear and disappear. Through the animations’ dynamism and eccentricity, it’s easy to dress up your website, making it memorable and radiant enough to steal the limelight from the strongest competitors.

By adding scroll animations to the website, you can achieve digital superiority and attract even more users to your product or services because these visual elements:

  • draw attention to crucial website sections or elements, encouraging users to stay on the site longer;
  • can be used as full-fledged functional elements to indicate that the user has successfully performed a certain action;
  • add to subtle micro-interactions that make a website more accessible, engaging, and fun;
  • evoke positive emotional feedback and joyful associations, leaving a lasting impact on the user and stimulating them to come back;
  • are effective storytelling tricks that help users feel like a part of a meaningful and unique website story;
  • help create personality and brand awareness, leaving overly “static” and old-fashioned competitors behind.

The astonishing diversity and numerous advantages explain the widespread use of scroll animations when creating websites. But it’s important to know all the nuances and complexities of working with different kinds of animations, depending on the action they’re combined with: hovering, clicking, scrolling, page loading, or cursor movement.

Features of scroll animations

Scroll animations are activated by the movement of a mouse wheel, and during the animation, elements can be dynamically altered in a variety of ways, such as appearing, moving, changing size, and changing color. While most scrolling animations are initiated by scrolling the page, there are also one-screen animations that do not require page scrolling.

The popularity of scroll animations is attributable to their main functional advantages: Simplicity, Storytelling, and Engagement.

  1. Simplicity. In most cases, scrolling the mouse wheel is easier than clicking on the buttons. For this reason, even those elements that traditionally provide control using buttons, such as sliders, are increasingly scrolled through.
  2. Storytelling. By using scroll animations, you can tell a heartwarming and touchy, or quirky and eccentric story, depending on your needs. It’s a great technique to establish a connection with the target audience, evoking a positive emotional response. Because of such brief animated “movies”, users feel comfortable and can more easily catch all the ideas and meaningful concepts you prepared for them to explore.
  3. Engagement. Scrolling is easier than clicking, and when a user scrolls, the moving elements can better catch one’s eye. In terms of user engagement, scrolling is typically more prevalent than clicking or hovering over specific elements on a webpage.

In the past, scrolling animations were a rarity due to their complexity and difficulty in implementation. However, in recent years, they have gained much popularity and are now commonly used on websites. As a front-end developer, I have personally worked on multiple projects that involved incorporating scroll animations into web pages.

From my personal experience, what matters a lot is their quality, as poorly executed animations — abrupt, intrusive, or irritating — can be off-putting and unappealing to users. This is particularly important for scroll animations, given that scrolling is the primary mode of interaction on a website. If scroll animations are carelessly implemented and cause problems with scrolling, they can quickly become frustrating, making the user want to browse elsewhere. When executed properly, however, scroll animations can enhance the user experience and draw attention to even the slightest details.

For this reason, adding animations to a website, particularly scroll ones, requires expert developers who can ensure a high level of quality and smooth execution.

And if you’ve firmly decided to incorporate scroll animations into your website, let’s delve even further and explore which type can yield the greatest benefits for you.

Types of scroll animations

There are several types of scroll animations that can be distinguished based on the method of execution and display on web pages. These include one-screen scroll animations, scroll-bound animations, and scroll-triggered animations.

Next, we’ll examine each type more closely using examples of animated sites featured on the prominent Awwwards platform.

One-screen scroll animations

One-screen scroll animation is a captivating type of animation used in web page design. As the name suggests, these animations are triggered by scrolling the mouse wheel, but they do not cause the page to move or scroll. Instead, these visual effects play out within the confines of a single screen or section of the page.

Let’s take a look at some examples of one-screen scroll animations and their implementation.

PREVINT

This is a powerful and life-changing social project that aims to raise awareness among adolescents and adults about violence in interpersonal relationships. On this impactful platform, you may find bright and memorable elements such as horizontal slider navigation, which can be moved through by scrolling or clicking on buttons. No wonder this project became the Site of the Day — the vivid visuality, along with a noble social mission, is definitely a winning strategy to enhance digital progress and help people maintain respectful and healthy relationships.

Species in Pieces

Species in Pieces is undoubtedly one of the coolest websites in the green industry that aims to raise awareness for endangered species conservation. Each animal featured on the site is depicted in multicolored triangles that rearrange themselves when scrolling or clicking on the arrows on the right-hand side of the page.

Beyond its critical social impact, this site is also a testament to complex design and development solutions, setting the standard for innovation in the industry. The scrolling animation is one of the many elements incorporated into this project, specifically created to draw attention to the beauty and fragility of our surrounding world. No wonder Species In Pieces was awarded as the Site of the Year.

Scroll-bound animations

Scroll-bound animations refer to a type where each element change is dependent on the amount of scrolling done on a page. The position and scrolling speed act as a timeline, with animations running faster or slower depending on the speed at which users scroll the page. If the scrolling speed is reduced or increased, the animation will also slow down or accelerate accordingly, and when a user stops scrolling, the animation will сease immediately.

Here are some really good examples of scroll-bound animations.

Kayma Stories

The creators of this site aimed to transform intricate academic research into content that would captivate and engage a wider audience. It features stories of small victories in the struggle against poverty, inequality, and environmental damage, offering a glimmer of hope amidst these complex issues. Here, you can find 8 distinct animated stories that are based on published academic studies. Each story highlights the ways in which the science of economic behavior can lead to significant changes in our daily lives.

The main feature of these stories is animated illustrations. As the user scrolls the page, various elements appear and change on one side of the page. These frames, changing during the animation, offer a brief but vivid depiction of the story being told, providing valuable visual context to complement the text content.

Kayma Stories creators highly appreciate the importance of animations:

The use of animation allows to present research in a much more interesting and fascinating form and turn the entire reading experience into something unique and fascinating. Although it may seem like a distraction from the text, we found that after scrolling through the animation, people immerse themselves in the text to understand what they just saw.

The outstanding design and innovations of this site were recognized by Awwwards, which awarded it an Honorable Mention.

Atterwasch

Want to see the power of grassroots activism in action? Check out the story of Atterwasch. Despite being a model of sustainable energy use, this small German village was still in danger of being destroyed for a coal quarry expansion. But thanks to the tireless efforts of residents and lawyers, the decision was ultimately reversed in 2017. It’s an inspiring example of how people can come together to protect their communities and make a difference.

The use of animations on this site serves to create a seamless and immersive interaction with the platform, helping to establish an emotional connection and maintain user engagement. By integrating text content with visually appealing designs, this website offers a unique and impactful user experience that is both captivating and informative.

The project was also awarded the Honorable Mention by Awwwards.

Scroll-triggered animation

Scroll-triggered, or initiated animations are a popular design option, as they are highly efficient and require less resources to execute than the other types. By triggering the animation when a certain scrolling position is reached, these animations are able to maintain consistent progress regardless of further scrolling.

Good examples of scroll-triggered animation implementation can be found on the following sites.

The other side of truth

This site was developed to educate people about the war russia started in Ukraine. Created by talented Ukrainian specialists, it immerses users in the story with the help of well-crafted scroll animations. Here, visual effects are added not for the sake of fun or attractiveness — they are used as a strong tool to spread awareness and garner support for Ukraine.

The creators of the site stated the following:

Our country has been attacked by russia, it is destroying our lives, it wants to trample on freedom. Ukraine is our home, we will defend it to the end, our voices will unite and no one will force us to be silent and give up freedom.

The powerful message, coupled with the visual elements, can truly immerse you in the war russia brought to Ukraine. Even though the documentary photos and videos are powerful on their own, the added animations really help take things to the next level. These elements are mostly scroll-initiated, which means they start when you scroll down the page, making the site feel even more alive. And don’t just take our word for it — the site won Site of the Day from Awwwards, so you know it’s top-notch.

Corn Revolution

This website of a varietal corn seed production and sales company is both vibrant and expressive. It features a plethora of original, attention-grabbing elements, including 3D objects, cursor movement animations, animated backgrounds, and scrolling animations. Together, these features form a visually stunning and unforgettable experience for users.

The developers of the site note that:

From the beginning, we envisioned the story told vertically, in one seamless experience. The idea was to feature scroll-triggered CGI animation and pixel-perfect execution across all screens.

Corn Revolution was also named Website of the Year by Awwwards.

Examples of Halo Lab scroll animations

At Halo Lab, we have worked with animations and other digital experiences for more than 10 years. Our team’s strong motivation, attention to detail, and passionate mindset have propelled us to achieve the status of the #1 company on Dribbble, earning our company the admiration and positive reviews from clients.

Driven by our commitment to creating visually captivating and functionally effective products, our designers and developers have explored a wide array of styles and ideas. As a result, 18 of our projects have been recognized with prestigious features on Awwwards. Out of these, 14 have been honored with notable mentions for their innovative integration of interactive elements, including captivating scroll animations.

History virtual museum

This website is a virtual space that showcases the history of different civilizations and cultures through interactive exhibits and multimedia content.

To bring the History virtual museum to life and create a more immersive experience for the target audience, our team experimented a lot with scroll-triggered animations. By animating content as the user scrolls, we can make the exhibits feel more dynamic and captivating, helping people connect with the history and culture in a fresh, interesting way. It’s a neat little project that works quite well.

So let’s take a look at some examples of these projects in more detail to see why they stand out.

Nature Morte

Nature Morte is an online museum of world-class paintings that offers viewers the opportunity to behold various art pieces in a special setting. If you want to expand your artistic horizons and encounter the very finest in art, it’s a perfect place to go.

The idea behind this project was to create an outstanding online gallery, with deep graceful colors and classical paintings in modern execution.

We wanted to create an extra memorable and pleasant user experience for Nature Morte, so our team combined a bunch of scroll-triggered and scroll-bound animations. Through such a mix, we wanted to evoke a sense of magic and help users feel like they are walking in the halls of Hogwarts, full of beautiful animated pictures.

No doubt, the gracefulness and subtlety of scroll animations have rightfully earned our projects honorable mentions on the highly-respected Awwwards platform.

The final scroll of our journey

If you want your website to grab attention and look modern, quality scroll animations are the way to go. They can catch people’s eyes, make your site more engaging, and help you stand out from the competition. And that’s already half of the success.

To find more animation-related inspiration, check out Halo Lab’s works on Dribbble, Behance, and Webflow. Our team knows how to use these and other visual effects in a way that really makes sense for your site to make both you and your users happy.

And if you enjoyed this guide and would like to learn even more about scroll animations, don’t forget to check its twin article, where we talk about more technical matters of creating animations.

Have a great day, and keep in mind that you can contact Halo Lab 24/7 if you want us to develop a wonderful website for you. So don’t be shy, and let’s create something entirely new and attractive together.

Writing team:
Dmуtro
Editor
Viktoriia
Technical writer
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