Interactive Elements in Web Design

Interactive elements in web design trends come and go, but one I’d like to dive into is the ever-evolving component of interactive elements and animation. While some companies have mastered the art of creating digital experiences on their websites, I’ve also seen some companies take this trend too far. Of course, if used well, it can be a powerful engagement tool. However, excessive interaction and animation that are disconnected from your brand goals can backfire and leave potential customers feeling frustrated by their user experience. 

Is it possible to balance usability and delight in web design? Yes! In my opinion, companies like Apple and The New York Times are masters at creating this balance. The difference lies in harmonizing interactive elements and animations to elevate the user experience without overshadowing the core message and brand identity. 

When it comes to interactive elements in web design, how much is too much?

Excessive interactivity and animation can be counterproductive. For example, while showcasing their design capabilities, Adobe’s Creative Cloud product pages have sometimes been criticized for overly complex or heavy animations, leading to slower loading times and potentially hindering user experience. 

It’s easy to get carried away and implement flashy effects simply to have a “cool” site. While these effects can be fun and create energy, this approach can often dilute your core message or leave users feeling lost, ultimately missing the point of design. I believe design should always serve a purpose, and if the purpose is lost in heavy animations for entertainment’s sake, it’s time to rethink the strategy.

Interactive elements in web design should elevate your brand.

When it comes to illustrating the art of balancing interactivity and animation, few companies match Apple. Apple’s product pages are an embodiment of this principle. Despite the technical complexity and use of image assets, video clips, and animation transitions, the user experience remains pristine while staying true to its core message. The animations on Apple’s website are not just visually appealing; they serve a functional purpose, helping users understand the product, its features, and how it fits into their lives. 

One of my favorites is this page featuring their Apple Watch. 

Another excellent example of beautiful interactive design is by The New York Times.

For those looking beyond the realm of product pages, The New York Times sets a gold standard in creating interactive articles and data visualizations. They utilize interactive elements and animations to convey complex information in a way that is easy to digest. These features add depth and engagement to their content without overshadowing the stories they tell; ultimately, these elements enhance their stories. 

Here is an example of one of my favorite interactive NYT articles.

Interactive Design Key Factors for Success

To successfully leverage interactive elements and animation without going overboard, consider these four key factors:

  1. Create Purpose-Driven Design: Every interactive element and animation should have a clear purpose, whether it’s to enhance understanding, engagement, or user navigation. 
  2. Remember, Consistency is Key: Maintain consistency in design, tone, and messaging to ensure that animations complement your brand identity rather than detract from it.
  3. Take a User-Centered Approach: Prioritize the user experience by ensuring intuitive and responsive interactions, enhancing the user’s journey without disrupting it.
  4. Consider Performance: Overly complex animations can slow your website’s load times, potentially driving users away. Optimize for performance over heavy animations.

What are the dos and don’ts of interaction in web design?


  • Do test interactive elements with real users to gather feedback and refine your design.
  • Do use animations to guide users’ attention to important elements or calls to action.
  • Do employ animations to create a sense of continuity and smooth transitions.


  • Don’t overload your website with animations that distract from the content.
  • Don’t sacrifice usability for the sake of aesthetics.
  • Don’t neglect the importance of mobile responsiveness when implementing interactive elements.

In summary, the strategic use of interactive elements and animation in web design is a trend that continues to evolve. By looking at industry leaders like Apple and The New York Times, we can see that successful implementation enhances user experiences and reinforces brand identity. However, it’s important to tread carefully and ensure that every interaction and animation serves a clear purpose. When done right, interactive elements and animations can transform a website into an engaging, memorable, and effective digital platform.