CSS Animations: The Present and Future of Web UI

Long gone are the days of Flash animations dominating web pages. With the withdrawal of iOS support came a wave of widespread disinterest, and in turn, exploration for new solutions. Now designers, developers, and enthusiasts alike have ceased scrambling for simpler ways to include interactive animated elements into their web pages.

Why’s that, exactly? What’s the go to answer for so many goal-oriented go-getters? What could possibly replace the flashy hole that Adobe’s infamous service left behind?

Elementary, my dear Watson: CSS Animations. As an Austin SEO, you’d think the clients that approach me would have most of that lined up—especially hailing from such a tech savvy city—but more often than not, we find ourselves having to revamp entire UI frameworks before even starting any technical optimization campaigns. If you’re still scrambling for more efficacious solutions, this post should help break things down and get you started in the right direction.

What’s Happening Now

Created completely within CSS3 markup, these animations are easy to implement and they add a slick aesthetic appeal to any design. Not only that, but the added motion captures user attention, improves experience, and can even direct traffic on your site by indicating which elements are clickable.

Basically, CSS animations allow you to alternate style configurations based on certain triggers, such as a mouse scrolling over the element.  Within the CSS, these animations are defined by rules describing the type of effect desired. This is accomplished via the @keyframes at-rule, which is essentially, where the starting and stopping points of your animated effects are set.

These rules allow for an impressive amount of flexibility in your designs. You can alter everything from the way your site transitions from one page to the next, on down to the ways buttons react to being clicked. With CSS animations you can implement:

  • Rotations
  • Expansions
  • Compressions
  • Bouncing
  • Page-turning
  • Revolving
  • Flipping
  • Sliding

The list is nigh endless.

Moreover, they decrease the divide between mobile and desktop UX. Because smooth CSS animations are hardware accelerated and mobile friendly, their implementations in traditional browsers end up being reminiscent of iOS and Android UIs.  Because browsers are increasingly mobile, so too are web designs gaining a degree of mobility.

Life certainly has its poetry.

Perhaps most excitingly, the extent to which these techniques are being utilized is continuously growing.

The Web of Tomorrow

Web Design is a growing and innovative field. New trends, technologies, and ideas are constantly being created, tested, and implemented in big numbers around the world. It’s hard to predict exactly how far the technology will go, but one thing you can expect is more interactivity. Animations are already being combined with drag and drop to improve engagement.

The potential for the expansion of these animations is already visible around the web. Soon enough, it’ll be difficult to imagine transitions that aren’t at least subtly animated in one way or another. Check out the numerous examples available for your experimentation here.

More possibilities exist beyond simple web UI as well. Interactive content such as infographics, games, even videos can be created almost completely independently within a site’s CSS. The color and movement of reality are slowly but surely being integrated into the web interfaces we all use on a daily basis.

The future of Web UI will be interactive, immersive, and animated beyond all current comprehension. The truly impressive stuff is yet to come, but with the many examples of how CSS animations are already being put into practice make for speculation that’s exciting enough on its own.

Learn More!

If you’d like to know more about how to implement CSS animations in your own designs, check out these helpful resources:


  1. com
  2. com
  3. Mozilla Development Network
  4. Microsoft.com

Kyle Sanders is Head of Search at Complete Web Resources, an digital marketing firm in Austin, TX.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *