Henry David Thoreau speaking of the emerging technology of his own time
Copying is a notion that should be taken advantage of when building out any interactive system. With the abundance of information and stimuli we are presented with on a daily basis, it makes sense to build upon the information and skillsets people have on hand already in order to aid them in the management of this load of information. Humans have an innate understanding that copying makes us smarter in the sense that we know that a copy of something is a pre-packaged container of knowledge. This is the basic way that evolution occurs, how languages are developed, as well as cultural trends and fads spread. We see something that has been approved of by others, and copy it to our liking. John Maeda refers to this within The Laws of Simplicity as “using design to ease the process of understanding,” and also explains that the reliance upon familiarity within design can be used as an effective mechanism to entice someone into engagement with your design as he states, The best designers marry function with form to create intuitive experiences that we understand immediately - no lessons (or cursing) needed. Good design relies to some extent on the ability to instill a sense of instant familiarity. “Hey, I’ve seen this before!” is a targeted reaction that builds the confidence to give it a try.
via John Maeda, The Laws of Simplicity. The MIT Press, 2006.
Movement, change, and animation are a lot more than ways to delight users: they are a functional method for design.
These examples are essentially animated wireframes, but extra detail isn’t needed. Designing how things change and move is enough for us to understand what they are and the relationships between them. You don’t need the heavy-handed metaphor, because the information is baked into the element’s behavior, not its aesthetics.
A designer’s work is not only about how the things look, but also their behaviors in response to interaction, and the adjustments they make between their fixed states. In fact, designing the way elements adapt and morph in the in-between moments is half of your work as a designer. You’re crafting the interstitials.