Light me up

Many computer geeks (especially ones who remember “old good” Windows 98 times) believe that animation effects are just a waste of resources. Indeed, even in Windows 9X menu animation mostly used to be as an eye candy feature with nearly no practical need. The more, popular Linux distros already offer XGL-powered interfaces featuring various transition effectswhich might be nice looking but mostly disturbing and completely useless. Nevertheless there’re many examples of how animation effects may really increase (not decrease!) usability and help user.

Here we would talk about just one effect of that kind: Phosphor (and a  similar one, called spotlight).

Phosphor” is a name given to a set of controls with “afterglow” effects by Microsoft research team. Phosphor video shot

Phosphor controls attract user’s attention by applying fadeout lightning effects to controls which have just been changed. Ideally, thich should give user information about control status change without distracting one from his work. As researches indicate, such types of transition effects are indeed helpful and no wonder they’re widely used in various AJAX sites/applications. For example, WordPress highlights just added tags to draw ones attention to them or Google reader lights up feeds when new posts arrive. Even though the most popular use of afterglow is lighting up newly added elements, there’re much more ways to apply them.
Just read the research I’ve already mentioned or take a look at the corresponding video.

Although highlight-afterglow effects are widely used on the web I know no Desktop application which uses them. Probably a reason behind this is a lack ofcorresponding controls or Desktopsoftware developers are less sensitive to early adoptation ofinnovative technologies.

P.S.: real-life samples of afterglow controls I’ve seen often use light yellow color for highlighting, not toxic green as in Microsoft video.

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