Nattu, LottieFiles, and the Magic of Great Design

I once made the rookie mistake of inadvertently mentioning a computer mouse in front of Nattu, and then got a three-minute meditation on the evolution of the mouse as a tool. He is the one person I know who genuinely believes in magic — that is, the magic of creating beautiful and simple products.

I think it is my duty to warn you of the madness that is Nattu Adnan. When you are speaking to him, you will get the impression that time seems to accelerate alarmingly with each conversation racing into the distance then abruptly stopping. His extensive knowledge on everything design and digital will only be interrupted by his terrible ‘copy paste’ jokes, indicating that whatever might be said on a particular topic has been said, and you better launch another into the space between you — fast — before he rushes off to solve another one of the problems that exists in this world.

Here is the story behind LottieFiles

When Nattu Adnan first stumbled upon LottieAirbnb’s new open-source animation tool, he was excited, as any product designer would be at the thought of removing any and all friction between designers and developers.

When designers and developers work on the same project — the designer works to create elements that look great, while the developer codes and prepares the material for web and app publishing. Even when these 2 individuals work side-by-side from start to finish, there can be plenty of rework and discord before the final product is released.

The folks at Airbnb created Lottie to remove the process of creating hard-to-maintain code when supporting animations in web and app products. After all, animations are a powerful tool that allow products to possess a more creative and compelling user experience.

Time for designers around the world to rejoice as this sounds like the days of wishing for design telepathy are finally over! All designers have to do now is create the animation for Lottie, which will then be used for development.

However, after the first few iterations, Nattu along with his long-time friend and fellow product designer, Shafiu Hussain realised quickly that although Lottie helps developers use animations without the painstaking overhead of re-writing them, it didn’t support all variations of animation features. Thus, keeping intact the tedious back-and-forth between designers and developers.

Shafiu Hussain

If the animation uploaded by the designer wasn’t supported on Lottie, they still had to go back into After Effects, delete or edit a particular layer and then re-export the JSON file before running it through the app. Basically, what was thought to make the workflow briefer was only making the designer tweak their animation over and over again, before being able to send it to the developer. Sounds like a minor adjustment for you and me, but for designers it could mean hours re-creating their files, only to later be rejected by the developer (because some features still don’t match).

With so much novelty in the world, who has time to look up and dream of building a solution that solves this problem? The answer seems to be Nattu, Shafiu, and what we will now be referring to as LottieFiles!

These part-time UI/UX designers and full-time digital mavericks built LottieFiles (and Lottie Preview, if you’re referring to the mobile app version) in a matter of days so that designers all over the world can test and iterate their animations as many times as they needed before sending it to the developer. The site is also used by designers to share their own animations — allowing nearly anyone to download, customise and use it in their own products for better usability. Further, developers no longer have to test and retort to every single file coming their way.

LottieFiles is addressing a problem that was for years taken as divine mandate — something you had to endure as punishment for not knowing how to design and engineer at the same time. In just 5 months, Lottiefiles has amassed over 60,000 downloads (with zero marketing spend) and gathered over 250 contributors from all corners of the globe.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! What is not documented is the some 16,000 files that have since been uploaded privately to test and share and test again. And possibly the millions of sighs of frustrations and unwarranted disagreements that were saved between designers and developers alike, thanks to LottieFiles.

But LottieFiles does much more than reduce the designer-developer workflow.

Since the birth of the public internet in the mid-1990s, there have been complaints that, with the best minds of a generation focused on finding new ways of tinkering with software, the big picture of accessibility was being lost.

And if there is one thing I know without a doubt, it is that Nattu’s real passion lies at the heart of building communities, sharing problems and discussing solutions, and using the power of the crowd to solve world scale problems.

The LottieFiles platform built by Nattu and Shafiu is a community space that aims to build a network of designers enabling them to share striking animations to ultimately make web and app products better and prettier. With the rise of material design, these interaction on our mobile and web platforms can improve user interfaces significantly. Simple micro animations are known to trigger positive emotions in users, and ultimately aims to make products simpler and lives easier.

‘A lot of my motivation comes from me personally looking at things that don’t work well, feeling a bit sad about it, but then quickly figuring out a solution’ said Nattu ‘Great design should be at the core of any product. The way a product is delivered and presented can have huge impact on its usability’

While designers and developers may often work from separate rooms or even countries, each needs the skills of the other to create a complete product. So they have to work together. LottieFiles wants to bring designers and developers together, fuelling more cohesive web and app projects with greater aesthetics, cleaner interface and more functional code. This means there is less work and rework during the collaborative process, hopefully resulting in a project that can be completed in less time.

Be sure to check out LottieFiles today and join the community thats bringing you beautiful and seamless animations straight to your computer and phone screens!

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