Animating Design Elements: 7 Unique & Creative Practices

July 15th, 2009

We saw different methods and techniques that truly speak to the designer’s capabilities and creativity. A great way to distinguish yourself from the crowd is to have a truly unique user interface. Although there are many possibilities, you should carefully plan each project on its own. Not all techniques provide a solution for everything. Some of them are very helpful and easy to implement, but some lack usability and simplicity.

There are 7 creative practices featured below, from animated menus to scrollable content to hover effects. But they aren’t just for looks; each one also adds valuable functionality and improves the user experience of your site. These examples can be a starting point for what jQuery and other javascript libraries can do to animate any design element you want.

1. Animated Menus


Koodoz has taken a truly unique approach to the top navigation menu. What they have created is an animated drop down menu when you hover on any item while showing a small description of what this item mean or lead to.



The Unowhy has an impressive designed menu, when a visitor hovers over the menu item, additional information is displayed automatically in a very elegant way.



LeviKoi has a nice animated menu effect.


2. Scrollable Content


Metalabdesign uses an interesting approach to scroll smoothly in a visually-appealing manner.



Another great example of smooth scrolling.



Over the last couple of years we have noticed a strong trend toward sliding horizontal panels or menus also known as Carousels. SquaredEye uses a similar effect, once one of the navigation options at the left and right is clicked, an of image slides in horizontally.It also uses a rollover effect on the trigger elements to let the users preview previous and next navigation item.


3. Form Validation


The goal of web form validation is to ensure that the user provided necessary and properly formatted information needed to successfully complete an operation. WeLoveIcons’s contact form implements a unique form validation that gives the user feedback inside the field and below the form in a really stylish way.



Another interesting example of validating form in a non traditional way is the contact form created by Scottjehl.



Another impressive example of validating forms.


4. Tabs

EA Video Games

This tab set is beautifully styled. It uses large buttons, and clean typography with icons.



Another tab set that has a good styling. It uses a bevel to seperate tabs, large buttons, and clean typography with icons.



One of my favorite tab sets. The use of rounded corners and a strong color difference to separate the tabs not in use.


5. Hover Effects


SliceMachine is a brilliant example showing a nice rollover effect that present additional information in a very beautifully styled and clean layout.



Eyedraw has an excellent example of applying the insatiably attractive Mootools effect (Kwicks) but in jQuery.



Another interesting design approach is presented by MadeByElephant – the gallery uses rollover effect on the trigger elements to let the users preview more info about the selected item. In some situations this approach can be useful.


6. Image Showcase & Slideshows


This is a very well-thought-out image gallery with very smooth sliding and a clean layout.



WPZoom has a very very clever portfolio slider showcasing their latest themes with a nice layout.



An in-depth slideshow with a fully styled and usable horizontal slider.


7. Toggle Elements

Atlantic bt

Toggling a panel can be an excellent way to tuck away an obstructive menu, which the user can click on to reveal.



Another example of showing hidden content; the search box.


The jungle is alive: Be it a collaboration between two or more authors or an article by an author not contributing regularly. In these cases you find the Noupe Editorial Team as the ones who made it. Guest authors get their own little bio boxes below the article, so watch out for these.


17 comments for „Animating Design Elements: 7 Unique & Creative Practices
  1. Carson Shold on July 15th, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Ah, I can’t wait until I learn some of this stuff. I love static HTML/CSS sites, but some simple things (especially SliceMachine’s rollovers) make a site just that much better.

    Great stuff guys.

  2. Dean on July 15th, 2009 at 8:43 am

    On the SquaredEye website, one of the first images is of a woman holding up a business card, and you can clearly see the “iStockPhoto” water mark on it! XD

  3. adis on July 15th, 2009 at 8:49 am

    But animates should not reduce the load time right?

  4. George Egonut on July 15th, 2009 at 9:23 am

    A great example of rollover animation can be seen in the large thumbnails at I like that while it’s cool, it serves a functional purpose, allowing twice the information to be displayed over the thumbnail. While I think that it’s important to have some “wow” factor on a site, I have a hard time justifying the performance hit unless it serves a communicative purpose, which this does.

  5. Paul Cushing on July 15th, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I noticed the link from the image for Toggle is pointed to the Atlantic bt site. Thanks again for the great resource.

  6. Rajnish on July 15th, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks.. something out of the box..

    suggestion:: get me more interactive kind of stuff

  7. trCreative on July 15th, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Love the ‘Unowhy’ site, really smooth transitions! Fantastic list!

  8. Zvonko Biskup on July 15th, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for listing our site in your post (

    Nice article.

  9. Wiz on July 15th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Nice article… although Made By Elephant does not have validation on their contact form anymore… so the example is moot. You can type anything at all, it doesn’t even use PHP to validate your email address using a preg_match or preg_replace

  10. Web Design Mumbai on July 15th, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    wow, this is just brilliant.

    thanks a ton.

  11. Bahy M. Ali on July 16th, 2009 at 1:33 am

    Amazing! now I have tons of JavaScript to analyze and learn from!
    Thank You!

  12. Noel Wiggins on July 16th, 2009 at 3:11 am

    This is a fantastic collection of inspirada.

    Can’t wait to try some of them in my next project…

  13. Tehseen | Ijaar on July 16th, 2009 at 3:57 am

    Very useful information. Specially liked the Hover effect examples, pretty darn creative!

  14. Koodoz Design on July 16th, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Thanks for featuring our site and our “truly unique” ;) navigation on your site!! Very cool :)

  15. not2comply on July 17th, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Pretty inspiring….
    Great post & thanks for sharing..

  16. website designing india on July 21st, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Its great post and very informatics and inspiring

  17. Ryan Burrell on July 25th, 2009 at 12:49 am

    There are some really nifty effects and visuals listed here. But, a word of caution: many of the implementations of these effects aren’t accessible if you have JavaScript and/or CSS disabled.

    Know your audience, then make a decision on how much animated bling you can add :)