Should we animate tab switching?



  • I opened up a feature request for Windows Terminal to talk about adding some form of animation when doing tab switching between fields. The most common pattern is to make the transition instant.

    Google Analytics uses an animation effect when switching tabs in their explore view

    image

    The premise for it is to prevent the "surprise" (like Jack Nicholson in the Shining) when switching tabs. I am thinking it should be a user configurable option.

    As for animation, I was thinking the "slide" of the section effect plus a flash like they do in Google Analytics. That's for the tab. As for the main area, I am thinking to do a push slide effect, though that may be too intensive when swapping as well.

    Anyway question is whether it is a good idea or not in a more general context not just Windows Terminal, but across apps e.g. browsers, file explorers etc.

    And if it is a good idea, what transition effect should be done?



  • Animation can be helpful in showing users that something has changed and to bring attention to an element on the page. It can, like you said, reduce the "jump cut" effect.

    It shouldn't be done gratuitously; motion effects like slides and pushes could bother users with vestibular disorders (up to 40% of users, at some point in their lives).

    A good principle when using animation is to respect the user. Ask:

    • Does this support – or interrupt – a user’s task?
    • Does it slow the user down, or speed things up?
    • Does it feel natural, or obtrusive?
    • Does it provide important information, or is it a novelty?

    A good approach is to test with users to find out of the animations are getting in the way of a task, or supporting it.

    (Source: Rachel Nabors, Animation at Work)


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