In 1996, I was working at Macromedia, when Rob Burgess took over as CEO. Shortly after he came on board, an edict came down from the top: “no more gratuitous animation.” I saw people look at each other bewildered, most employees thought that the company was all about gratuitous animation. I agreed with Rob.
Don’t get me wrong. I love delightful motion graphics that make you feel immersed in an alternate space. We’re even teaching a class on it at Blazing Cloud, since we’re starting to see what used to be called “multimedia” arrive on the web sans plugin. If you’ve got a Chrome browser, you gotta check this out.
However, I believe we can do more with motion than purely entertain. We can use motion graphics to teach, to engage, and illustrate our conclusions. Zach Gemignani describes this well as Wow vs. Ah-ha (via FlowingData). We’re seeing many great examples of motion in human interface design that conveys meaning. The iPhone uses motion to convey a sense of greater space and to maintain visual persistence when screens change state — of course, this only works because the device is fast enough that the experience doesn’t slow down to teach us what it is doing. I’m excited to see increased use of thoughtful motion graphics in web, as well as mobile applications.
Lisa Bloom is right on target with her recent article How to Talk to Little Girls. Her story of a little girl in a pink ruffled dress being presented to the guests is so reminiscent of my own experience, but the following genuine conversation was not and I wish it had been.
I so wanted to be a princess or maybe a fairy with a magic wand or a witch like Glinda the good. I loved pink and flowing dresses and sparkles and rainbows. I did not understand why people didn’t seem to take me seriously.
Why can’t we be beautiful and smart? Why can’t we be fanciful and imaginative and serious? The boys could be rough and tumble and still have real grown-up conversation sometimes. Cooking, baking and cleaning were treated as serious stuff.
On a very rare occasion, I remember a conversation or two like Lisa Bloom relates. I hope we can make those more the norm for the next generation without dampening the fragile imagination of a child who still believes in magic.
Ani Lopez provides good reasoning that we should offer distinct pages for translations, since we want to target those pages to a specific audience. Search queries will be most commonly in someone’s native language, we want to segment our analytics by target market. English should not be treated just as English, but as American English (en-us), British English (en-gb), etc. An Australian searching for “bangers” would be looking for a tasty breakfast meat. As an American that sounds like it might be NSFW. We need to recognize that supporting multiple languages in our web sites and applications is not just a checkmark feature, but an opportunity to address a new market.