Top UI Animation Tools for Developers and Designers

By Roman Berezhnoi June 29, 2021 173 views

Top UI Animation Tools for Developers and Designers

Nowadays animation has become an indispensable part of app development and web design. It’s not surprising. Moving objects catch our attention. They make our eyes unconsciously follow them. Stunning animated titles, backgrounds, and fluid transitions create natural-looking motion that keeps us glued to the screen. However, the “wow effect” isn’t the only benefit UI animation offers. 

UI animation is a popular and indispensable part of any app. UI animation tools are accumulating a huge user base. It is because designers know the importance of UX animation tools to attract eyeballs on their app design.

Animated design elements are functional. They’re a great way to guide the audience through a process, improve orientation and provide feedback. That’s why more and more web designers and developers are making UI animation tools a part of their must-have collection. 

Why is UI animation important in app development?

UI animation deserves your attention if you plan to make a successful app. History is proof that every chart-topping app has a stunning app design layout. You must hence consider UI animations for the following reasons:

  • Portray a strong brand voice & image.
  • Make the app visually appealing.
  • Highlight app features intuitively.

The best UI design tools can fit almost every design process, and hopefully meet your creative requirements. Now is such a great time to explore new tools and see what’s available to design and showcase your projects. 

15 Best UI Tools for 2021

With so many UI design tools out there, though, which ones should you use? Over the last few years, the combination of Sketch and InVision has been a popular choice for many designers, but other tools have offered competitive features and options. There has never been a better selection of prototyping and wireframe tools out there, so we thought it was a good time to have a closer look at some of the best.

1. Final Cut Pro X 

Final Cut Pro X, or to be more precise, its Motion tool is a perfect way to enliven your project with eye-catching animation. Frankly speaking, Motion lets even non-professionals easily animate 2D and 3D titles. Due to more than 100 behaviors such as Type On, Blur Out, and Text-on-a-Path you’ll set your text in motion. 

Whether you want it to angle, bend or twist it’s a piece of cake with Motion. In other words, you can move the letters in any desired way. What’s more, 200 filters and effects enable you to add dazzling details to any animation. One of the best Motion features is a real-time design engine. As the name states, it allows you to see the work you’ve done immediately. 

2. Motion UI 

Motion UI is one of the newest UI animation tools. It’s a Sass library that lets you create flexible CSS transitions and animations. The tool makes UI animation prototyping fast and easy at the same time. The package includes a CSS file with more than two dozen pre-made transition and animation classes. Also, it has the source Sass files, which allow you to build your own. With Motion UI you get complete control over each detail of any effect. 

Furthermore, several animation effects can be played in series. The full Motion UI documentation helps you learn everything about the particulars of the animation functions. By the way, experts named the wide embracement of Motion UI Sass library among the latest web development trends. 

3. After Effects 

After Effects is definitely one of the most powerful UI animation tools. Do you want to create stunning titles, intros, and transitions? Is your intention to wow your audience with the animated logo or characters? All this and much more is possible with After Effects. 

Firstly, you can either start from scratch or with one of the animation presets. Secondly, this UI motion design tool offers you hundreds of effects to get the look you’re dreaming of. Thirdly, it enables you to effortlessly combine videos and images to set anything in motion. Moreover, you can add sound for really amazing results. Finally, thanks to Creative Cloud membership you get any new feature as soon as it appears. 

4. Lottie 

Lottie is an iOS, Android, and React Native library that perfectly supplements After Effects. This UI animation tool allows you to export the high-quality animation to any native app without any changes. The source files include various kinds of animation such as basic line art, character-based animations, and dynamic animations of logos with multiple angles and cuts. This means that you’re free to animate any design element. 

Besides, Lottie has an optional caching mechanism. In other words, any animation you use frequently can be loaded as a cached copy each time you need it. Furthermore, Lottie supports loading JSON files over the network. This is undoubtedly a great feature when it comes to A/B testing. 

5. Animate.css 

Animate.css is one of the simplest UI animation tools to add static, scroll, click or funky animations. It’s a library of common animations that you can use for any project. In fact, you need just one line of code to animate any element in no time. Animate.css contains only one file, which takes the load time to a minimum. 

As soon as you download the file, add it to your project folder. Now you’re ready to take advantage of cool little CSS3 animations. The only thing you have to do is add a class to the element you want to set in motion. If you don’t go further, your animation will happen only once. However, you can use three CSS properties to control it: animation-duration, animation-delay, and animation-iteration-count. 

6. Anime.js 

Anime.js is a 2D animation library that may become one of your favorite UI animation tools. First and foremost, it’s completely free, open source. Next, it is highly-functional yet lightweight. Moreover, the library works with CSS, Individual Transforms, SVG and DOM attributes as well as with JS Objects. 

Anime,js gives you an opportunity for creating and managing animations with ease. It offers you different ways to specify the elements you want to target and the properties you wish to animate. In fact, it gives you complete control on all the aspects of your animation. Alongside common parameters such as delay, duration, and easing, Anime.js has an “elasticity” attribute. The latter grants elasticity to the motion, which makes it look natural. 

7. Mantra 

Mantra belongs to UI animation tools that are powerful and simple at the same time. Actually, it deserves the status it has on GitHub: “A professional web animation tool for everyone”. Mantra is a timeline editing tool that lets you add, remove, and tweak individual keyframes of the animation. Thus it enables the fine-grained control necessary to create breathtaking visual effects. Besides, the number of keyframes you want to add isn’t limited. 

The onion skin view is one of the strong points of Mantra. This feature allows you to see the entire life cycle of the animation at once. Though Mantra goes under a CC BY-NC-SA license, the license doesn’t extend to the animations you create. To put it simply, you’re free to use your animations however you please. 

8. Stylie 

Being a Tween Editor for Mantra, Stylie also works well as a separate UI animation tool. You can use it anytime you need to configure and generate your own set of animations. Although some think Stylie to be a tool for fun, it’s definitely able to impress you with its capabilities. Define the beginning and ending positions of your animation. 

Make use of the Rotation Mode to modify rotation axes. Add, remove, and edit individual keyframes via the “Keyframes” tab. In case you want to quickly apply similar keyframe modifications across the animation, use group selection. Add your own custom curves to the standard ones in the “Motion” tab. Once you’ve tweaked the animation to your liking, it is time to export it. Select the format you prefer in the “Export” tab and that’s it. 

9. Bounce.js 

Bounce.js is one more UI animation tool worth your careful attention. It lets you create beautiful CSS powered animations on the fly. You don’t need to be a pro to generate smooth, elegant CSS animations, preview, share, and export them. 

To begin with, the clean minimalistic interface of the tool makes the creation process a straightforward task. Next, you get a handful of various animation presets. Also, the component list enables you to add different effects to your animation chain to mix and tweak them later. A square in the middle of the screen visualizes all movements of your animation. The buttons under the preview screen allow you to play or loop the animation or slow its motion. Every animation has a unique URL. After you click on “Get Short URL” you receive it at once. 

10. Animista 

Animista is a great UI animation tool to play with a collection of premade CSS animations. You can tweak the animations, test them out, and get only those you will actually use. All animations are organized into logical categories, groups, and variations that possess their own URL. Consequently, it’s as easy as ABC to bookmark or share them. 

The Options panel is the place where you can change the animation attributes. It contains standard CSS animation properties such as duration, timing, delay, iteration-count, direction, and fill-mode. The best thing is that you see the result of your actions instantly. As soon as the result satisfies you, click the “Download” button to find your “animista.css” file inside the download folder. 

11. Origami Studio

Given Origami Studio is built and used by designers at Facebook, you might assume this must be a great tool. And you’d be right. There’s a wonderful amount of features with Origami, including adding rules and logic to your interactions. How many times have you wanted a button to display or behave differently because of something else? There’s an opportunity to create a true-to-form prototype with Origami, but it is very technical and requires some learning. This tool is perfect for developers and designers working together.

12. Balsamiq

If rapid wireframing is what you’re looking for, then Balsamiq is a strong suggestion. You can quickly develop structure and layouts for your projects with ease. The drag-and-drop elements make life easier and you can link buttons to other pages. This means you can quickly start to plan your interfaces and then share them with your team or clients.

13. InVision Studio

Many UI designers’ dreams are about to come true with InVision Studio. Still in its early release, this tool will help you create beautiful interactive interfaces with a bucket load of features. You can create custom animations and transitions from a number of gestures and interactions. To top that, you can stop thinking about creating numerous artboards for multiple devices because responsive design can be achieved within a single artboard. This saves loads of time, so you can think of more ideas.

14. Proto.io

Proto.io is an incredible contender for creating lifelike prototypes from rough ideas right through to fully fledged designs. The tool also provides a lot of possibilities for your projects, including detailed animations and custom vector animations too. You can start by developing initial ideas with a hand-drawn style, then work them into wireframes and finish off with a high-fidelity prototype. The Sketch and Photoshop plugins really help if you want to design using other tools but Proto.io does handle the end-to-end design process well. Other features like user testing will also help validate your designs. This is an all-in-one place solution with a great number of trusted brands already using it.

15. Figma

Figma enables you to quickly compose and design interfaces. The Figma platform prides itself on being a collaborative design tool whereby multiple users can work simultaneously on a project – this is very effective when you have multiple stakeholders in a project that are involved in shaping the outcome. This is the kind of tool that would be ideal if you have a live project where a developer, copywriter and designer, for example, need to work on something at the same time.

Wrapping Up

A brilliant UI design will set your app apart from the competition. Try free tools for UI animation and app prototyping and mockups to get a blueprint of the app.

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