Plaisant, C., Chao, T., Liu, R., Norman, K., Shneiderman, B.
While animation has been shown to be compelling and helpful to reveal transformations of complex graphical representations such as trees or graphs, other studies have cast doubts on animation’s usefulness for learning. We present a new beneficial use of animation: helping users learn and understand the meaning of the spatial grouping of items on the screen. We introduce this technique in the design of two list comparison interfaces: Twinlist, an interface that helps physicians compare and merge two separate lists of medications into a reconciled list; and ManyLists, an interface for product comparison. Animation is used to reveal the similarities and differences between items in the lists and explain the final grouping. A controlled experiment confirmed that animation helped participants learn the groupings of Twinlist. Finally we summarize design guidelines and discuss other possible uses of the technique.
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