Visual transitions are an excellent way to spice up an application, and there are many options to choose
from. Some design considerations should be applied when selecting a transition that can be
summarized with the following questions:
Is the transition confusing to the user? Sometimes a really great-looking transition can leave a new user
confused. For example, consider a panel that travels off the screen to the left when the Next button is
pressed. This may look cool, but an inexperienced user might interpret the animation as the panel being
thrown out or canceled. However, the slide effect may be perfect for a wizard.
Is a transition too different from other transitions in the application? Some applications will use a
different transition for every view or even use a random transition each time. On the other hand, some
applications will only use a single transition in all instances. Both cases are probably too extreme. The
first example errs on the side of complexity and the second on the side of simplicity. An application is
probably best served by having a handful of transitions that are used in a consistent way. The sooner
users are exposed to each transition, the sooner they learn what to expect and are less likely to be caught
off guard by them.
Does a transition take too long? Even the best applications can suffer from overdoing the duration that
a transition takes to complete. In most cases the point of the application is not to show off transitions,
but to provide some other service. A user can quickly become tired of transitions that are longer than
half a second, so this should be kept in mind as each transition is fine-tuned.
Is a transition required at all? Once a bunch of interesting effects are in the hands of the designers and
developers, it can be very easy to use them all of the time. For some applications it may not be
appropriate at all to use transitions. Another possibility is that some critical portion of the application
should be effect-free to ensure maximum clarity. Take, for instance, a dialog where the user is changing
his password—it might be reasonable to not distract that with effects.
This chapter explored ways to replace one node with another. This was done within the context of one
panel containing UI elements being replaced with another. Each transition brought a unique user
experience. The implementation made sure that each transition left the scene in a state that would not
surprise any developer using the API. Lastly, a few points were addressed concerning how adding
graphically rich transitions to an application might affect the user's experience.