The reality is we hate waiting. As much as the World Wide Web has advanced, page load time and website speed is dependent on many factors such as the user’s internet. As much as we’d like to speed up page load time, there will be instances where loading is slower and out of our control.

This is why loading animations are an integral part of a website. Loading animations are shown before the actual content of the site as it loads. While they have no power to speed up the website loading time, it can keep the user occupied as they wait - this, in turn, decreases drop off and bounce rates.  

If there is no indicator that the page is loading, visitors might bounce out because there is no feedback that tells them their request is being processed. Hence, adding loading animation gives them the extra cues they need to wait patiently.

Are loading animations or preloaders necessary?  

Let’s get into the nitty gritty - loading animations (also called preloaders and loading indicators) are the animations that pop up when a page is loading, such as a spinner or an hourglass that constantly turns. However, these are the basic loading animations that have been around for a long time, and nowadays, they have become more creatively advanced.

But it's more than just aesthetics. In fact, Nielsen's original 10 heuristics for web usability includes visibility of system status as one of the most universally and imperative principles of web design. The user must be informed in a reasonable amount of time with feedback on what is happening once the user interacts with the system. If not, it can cause the users to bounce out. Google revealed that as page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases by a whopping 123%! On top of that, a one-second delay in mobile site load times can impact conversion rates by up to 20%.

Thus, loading animation - or what some may also call as a wait-animation progress indicator - is one way to avoid users from bouncing out of your site. It engages users while your website or app is loading. As we’ve touched upon, user feedback is extremely important to know that their requests are being worked on. Even if it doesn’t speed up anything, it makes the website seem responsive. This can be called perceived performance which is a subjective measure of performance, responsiveness, and reliability - this is working with user perception to make the user feel like the page is responding fast.

Even if you work hard at fixing your website’s page loading time, there can be times when it’s beyond your control such as when the server needs an upgrade and causes the page load time to be longer.  

On top of that, loading animations are also an opportunity to add to your branding by showing off your branding elements such as color or logo characteristics - a small touch goes a long way in showing how you value the little details.

How can I add loading animations into my website?

Here are some common approaches on how loading animations are implemented on a website.

Loading animation GIFs

GIFs may seem like the easiest way to add loading animations - it’s almost like a plug and play situation. When a web developer builds a site, they can add the GIF via code or upload it through the website platform itself.

But there are a few downsides to GIF loading animations:

  • The GIF file format can be heavy – this can slow down your website.
  • You can’t control how the GIF plays – for example, you can’t make it play a different segment when the loading process is almost complete.
  • You can’t enlarge a GIF without losing image quality.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) loading animations

CSS loading animations are a better option than GIF animations because:

  • They are lightweight, which means it is less likely to slow down your website.
  • They can be scaled up without losing quality.
  • They can be customized –  you can adjust the color, speed, duration, and playback behavior.

But working with loading animations in CSS also has a few downsides:

  • To implement them, you’d need to be familiar with CSS, and sometimes even JavaScript.
  • CSS animations can be more time consuming to bring from prototypes to development. For example: your team’s designer has created a prototype of the loading animation in Figma, but to implement it in a website, a developer would need to recreate it again with CSS.

Lottie loading animations

We may be a bit biased, but here’s why we think Lottie animations are perfect to convey loading states:

  • Lottie animations are lightweight, so they don’t slow down your site.
  • Lottie animations can be scaled up without losing quality.
  • You can use them on websites even if you don’t know how to code.
  • But if you do know how to code, Lottie development libraries make it easy to customize and manipulate playback behavior. Use the Lottie interactivity library to set up advanced customizations.
  • You can easily edit Lottie animations with the Lottie Editor or instantly apply custom colors with the Color Palette feature – even if you don’t know anything about motion design.
  • With LottieFiles plugins for design tools like Figma, Adobe After Effects, and Adobe XD, you can use the same animation in your design prototypes and development. There is no need to recreate the animations to use in your websites.

And best of all? There are tons of free Lottie animations that you can use in your personal and commercial projects.

Examples of loading animations

Now, here are some Lottie loading animation examples that you can simply download and use.

Loading spinners

Loading spinners are one of the most classic types of loading animations - it’s also a known loading animation so it will probably be easy to identify for users because it's been around for so long.

But with new design trends popping up, loading spinners are much more creative than the old, boring version of a circle and one color rotating. So, here are some Lottie animations for loading spinners you can check out.

Loading circle by Paramesh Vadivel
Loading by Luisa Fernanda Bolaños Beltrán 
Circle Loading by Paramesh Vadivel
Inattentive by Al Boardman
Estimate by Al Boardman (28KB)
“Loading animation blue” by Akshay

Progress bars

Progress bars are next on the list because besides spinner animations, loading bars are another common loading animation that many websites use.

Progress bars are easy to identify because they depict loading almost literally. It’s just the right amount of simple that can resonate with your users almost immediately.

But progress bars don’t have to be boring and bland, you can inject your brand colors into it or some interest to keep it aesthetically appealing. Here are some that you can use.

“Progress Bar - simple loading animation” by Parth J Gujarati
“Loading bar” by Alexandra Tankova
“Loading Bar” by Sahil Sawant
“Orange Loading Bar” by Cinar Culfaz
“Loading Bar Flip Animation” by Spencer Lalonde

Animated characters

On the more adorable end are animated characters. This is a good way to reinforce your brand’s personality or branding, while also straying away from the common themes of spinners and progress bars.

Animated characters would also work well with websites or apps for children or young adults as they are more playful. So, here are some cute animated characters we’ve dug up including popular characters!

Loading” by Mmayur Oza
“Loading 50 | Among Us” by Jeffrey Christopher
“Little Girl Jumping” by Jignesh Gajjar”
“Inchworm Character Animation” by Bayu Febrianto
“Loading 50 | Mario” by Jeffrey Christo
“Cute Tiger” by JAStudio

Abstract elements

Abstract elements are certainly mesmerizing. You could stare at them as you wait and get lost in time!

It’s also another great way to play with brand elements such as adding your brand colors or even characteristics of your logo. Here are a few abstract loading animations to inspire you.

Stick and ball by Krystof (5KB)
Square Drop Loader by Chris Gannon (63KB)
Loading Semicircle by Shan (8KB)
“Loading animation” by S M Rony
“Loading animation” by MD Abdur Rahim
“Loading Animation” by Jay Soni

Use Lottie animations to add animation to your website instantly

We hope these examples have inspired you! With thousands of free animations – plus features to make editing and collaborating on motion design easy – LottieFiles is the easiest way to add beautiful loading animations.

To get started, here’s a guide to adding Lottie anywhere, whether you’re a seasoned developer, or if you know nothing about coding and design. Now, go on, find the perfect Lottie animation to add to your website!