Why we need motion

Motion helps draw a user’s attention to key elements and interactions on a page, without interrupting their focus from the overall task. By showing how an element moves or changes from one state to another, motion helps prevent the user interface (UI) from changing too abruptly. When paired with other feedback mechanisms, motion can help users understand the consequences of their actions over the interface. To incorporate motion into a user experience in a coherent and consistent way, follow the set of guidelines mentioned below.

Motion principles


Motion should be used purposefully and judiciously. It should increase usability and guide emotion for users.


Use motion to draw a user’s attention to important aspects of the interface without distracting them from the primary task.


Use motion to make the user experience more delightful and approachable. 

Transform patterns in motion

To unify the forms of motion in the system, our components use the following transform patterns.


Scaling content into view draws users’ attention to the item that is in motion. For instance, Modal reveals while scaling up to focus users’ attention.


Fading makes it smooth to show and hide elements. It’s widely used in motion in Cloudscape components such as ModalSelectDate picker, and Date range picker, etc.


Sliding signifies spacial and structural clues that makes the interactions expected, for instance, Side navigationHelp panelSplit panel, etc. slide in from the direction of the trigger.

Properties of motion

Motion speed adjustments include easing (acceleration over time) and duration (how long a transition lasts).


In the real world, objects tend to accelerate or decelerate as opposed to moving at a constant rate. This allows for different speeds of movement to provide character. For example, snappier movements reflect responsiveness, whereas expressive ones create moments of delight. To make motion more purposeful and natural to the human eye, we use a set of defined streamlined easing curves. These easing curves are used by our components in combination with duration.

Curve A provides responsive yet smooth visual feedbacks.

Curve A (0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 1.00)

Curve A provides responsive yet smooth visual feedbacks.


  • Dropdown part of Select (with 115MS duration)

  • Popover reveal (with 115MS duration)

Curve B makes an element sticky to a certain state.

Curve B (1.00, 0.00, 0.83, 1.00)

Curve B makes an element sticky to a certain state. 


  • Popover hide only when hovering-out from Charts (with 115MS duration)

Curve C draws user’s attention in an expressive way

Curve C (0.84, 0.00, 0.16, 1.00)

Curve C draws a user’s attention in an expressive way. 


  • Link (with 165MS duration)


Duration, or the amount of time that motion takes to complete an action, is defined in three ways. The correct use of duration in combination with easing provides smooth and purposeful transitions without disorienting users.

Duration: 115MS

This 115MS duration is supposed to make the motion quick and responsive.


  • Dropdown part of Select (with easing curve A)

  • Popover reveal (with easing curve A)

Duration: 165MS

165MS accommodates the motion with more expressiveness.


  • Shaking icon on an error state of Form field (with easing curve A)

  • Link (with easing curve C)

Duration: 250MS

To draw more attention or accommodate for more complexity, 250MS gives the space for that.

Supported use cases

Showing and hiding elements

Motion helps prevent the UI from changing too abruptly when an incoming element appears or an outgoing element disappears from the viewport.


An incoming dropdown on Select fades and slides in when appearing below its trigger. This motion helps give users spacial and structural clue over the interface.

  • Fade in

    • Easing: Curve A

    • Duration: 115MS

  • Scale

    • Easing: Curve A

    • Duration: 115MS

Other examples: Button dropdown, Date picker, Date range picker


The Modal appears while fading in and scaling up to draw users’ attention.

  • Fade in

    • Easing: Curve A

    • Duration: 115MS

  • Scale

    • Easing: Curve A

    • Duration: 115MS


The Side panel slides in from its trigger.

  • Slide in

    • Easing: Curve A

    • Duration: 115MS

Example: Side navigation and Help panel in dashboard demo


The Flashbar slides in from top of the screen.

  • Slide in

    • Easing: Curve C

    • Duration: 250MS

Example: Flashbar in Delete with additional confirmation demo

State transitions

Motion is used to highlight a change of state in an element. It eases the transition between states and notifies users to the change of state.

Getting an error

When an error occurs, a small shake movement brings attention to the warning, as demonstrated with the Form field component.

  • Fade in

    • Easing: Curve A

    • Duration: 165MS

  • Shake 5px on either side

    • Easing: Curve A

    • Duration: 165MS


The combination of easing Curve C and 165MS duration makes the transition on Link component smooth yet noticeable, conveying interactivity.

  • Change in color and added underline on hover

    • Easing: Curve C

    • Duration: 165MS

Loading states

With continuous motion, loading states inform users about actions in progress or other operations running in the background. A rotating spinner motion, or progression of a progress bar are examples of its displaying the loading state. For more details about the usage, see the guidelines for loading and refreshing.



Variable name
Current value
Loading resources

Accessibility in motion

Certain users with reduced or no vision may not be able to perceive motion, due to their dependence on assistive technologies such as screen readers or reduced motion settings for their operating system (OS). To ensure an accessible experience for all users, follow these guidelines:

  • Respect users' default motion preferences from their OS settings. Use the prefers-reduced-motion CSS media feature to disable motion.

  • Do not have motion that flashes more than three times in any one second period, because it can trigger epileptic seizures or physical reactions especially for users who have vestibular disorders. For more details see the success criterion  in WCAG guidelines.

  • Ensure that the user interface looks and behaves so that it’s perceivable to all users, without relying on motion alone.


Development guidelines

Enabling motion

Motion is active by default in all components.

We recommend to deactivate motion in test environments as this may cause your automated tests to fail. You can control the motion state using the disableMotion() function from the global styles package.

Respecting user preferences

If a user prefers reduced motion on their interfaces, they can specify this at the operating system level. In a web browser, this is reflected by the prefers-reduced-motion CSS media feature, and is currently supported by a number of browsers. See the MDN documentation  for more details. If the user's browser supports this media feature, the design system respects the user's preferences and deactivates all non-essential animations. 

Use in custom components

The design tokens provide easing curves, duration values, and animation keyframes names for adding motion to custom components. You can use these tokens for defining CSS transitions or CSS animations on elements as shown below.

@use '@cloudscape-design/design-tokens/index' as awsui;

.custom-popup {
  // Defining an entry animation using the fade-in keyframe
    awsui.$motion-keyframes-fade-in awsui.$motion-duration-responsive awsui.$motion-easing-responsive,
    awsui.$motion-keyframes-scale-popup awsui.$motion-duration-responsive awsui.$motion-easing-responsive;
  animation-fill-mode: both;

.custom-caret {
  // Adding a transition for changes to the transform property

  &.active {
    transform: rotate(90deg);