Gojek’s Superapp takes a week to perfect every new error message – Here’s why!

If you’re the type of enthusiast who delights in – or even observes – the animated graphics that accompany error messages, you might be interested to learn it takes a complete work week for motion designers at Indonesian web giant Gojek to create one.

That piece of information was disclosed in a blog post about the design process behind the cartoons used in the popular Gopay app.

During a conversation with the head of motion design, Binoy Cyriac, Senior designer Jean Dsouza shared that she spends approximately 70 percent of the time needed to create an image just deliberating about it.

Dsouza explained, “If I spend four days contemplating it, I can complete multiple animations in one day.”

One of the cartoons features an “unable to proceed” animation in which a small boy rocks back and forth on his bicycle in front of an orange cone, with a word bubble containing a scribble emanating from his head.

Another depicts a sighing boyish-looking male figure tapping his feet and fiddling with a fidget toy as his device encounters a connection error, with his body contracting during the exhale.

Dsouza described that her process for producing the images relies on physically or mentally practicing behavior related to the inconvenience or failure.

“When my Wi-Fi isn’t working I’m super restless and my foot begins to shake to release that restless energy,” Dsouza shared.

Modifying the movements of the animation sets the tones, added Dsouza – who detailed Gojek’s tone as “quirky and cute.”

While preparing, Dsouza also strategizes on how to execute the animation. Doing so helps her create in a savvy way that will minimize time and effort when it comes to actually creating the image using tools like Adobe After Effects.

Separating out a leg, for example, can enable it to be rotated instead of animated frame by frame – a design choice that can reduce a significant amount of time.

Prior to commencing work, the motion designer receives assets from an illustrator, such as a collection of facial expressions, body positions, and perhaps changing states of any accessories. For example, a vehicle wheel getting inflated from flat to perfect to perhaps overinflated and popped in six different images.

An attentive illustrator might consider separating the mentioned leg out for rotation as well, thereby reducing the motion designer’s inconvenience.

The motion designer takes the assets from the illustrator and generates the animations before sending them to the developer for deployment on the app.

According to The Register, Cyriac confirmed that an animated graphic like the ones in Gojek’s failure modes take approximately a week – “more or less.”

In terms of what it does for the user, the motion designer believes they are compelling.

“We have considerable statistically significant data to prove that motion design gives our users a better experience. This has resulted in increased user engagement and conversions,” Cyriac informed The Reg

“While the most common use of motion is to bring some life and delight to the user’s experience of navigating through user interfaces, it can also help prevent blindness to change and reduce cognitive load,” reads a description of the role of motion designer on a Gojek job ad.

An image that is animated without words could also be an astute way for a company that operates in five different countries – Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, and Philippines, all with different and sometimes multiple official languages – to convey a point.

Vignesh Ilangovan, creative director at Singapore-based animation house Triken Studios, acknowledged that motion design is essentially a visual, more intuitive form of communication.

He disclosed that “motion designer” is in some respects simply a new way to say “animator.” The distinction lies in the fact that the format and style has evolved over the years.

In the past, animations were heavily focused on being verbal explainers. “They used to have a character and say things like ‘this is Bob …’, but they don’t do that anymore. Higher-end studios prefer something more abstract,” he explained.

For instance, Apple has taken this approach – or outsourced this approach [VIDEO] – for over a decade.

Developers that neglect the artwork may find their product looks incomplete – not visually reflecting the high level of tech that lies underneath the metaphorical hood.

Ilangovan’s studio has been called in before to create artwork for an app facing that exact issue. A few illustrations ultimately gave the user the assurance that the product was well thought out – as evidenced during beta testing.

Regarding Gojek’s images, he explained that the animation loops are there to keep users entertained while waiting with the understanding that something was actually happening.

“It goes back to ten to twenty years ago when we surfed online and there was nothing to tell you if a website was loading. Then they introduced a preloader – a bar that progressively was filled in, so visually the user doesn’t think the browser is hung,” mused the creative director. “This is the natural progression of trying to connect to the user’s emotion and show we know the feeling and you’ll have to wait a bit more.”

“It’s today’s web preloader,” he added. ®

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