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The ultimate guide to explainer animations

Explainer videos can come in many formats, but one of the most popular and cost-effective types is animation.
Sam Taylor

Sam Taylor

4 minute read
November 26, 2021
Explainer videos can come in many formats, but one of the most popular and cost-effective types is animation.
The ultimate guide to explainer animations Image

Creating explainer animations is one of our most popular requests here at Eleven. So we wanted to round up our ultimate guide to creating effective explainer animations that will convert your viewers into customers.


Following a proven formula

Successful explainer animations that effectively engage an audience all follow a tried and tested formula. The video should flow through the following process:

  • The problem: This part is all about setting the scene and introducing the problem that your audience is facing.
  • The solution: Introduce how your service is the solution to your audience’s problem, highlighting your unique selling points.
  • How it works: Explain very clearly how your audience can use your service, highlighting the benefits too.
  • Call to action: Make it easy for the audience to know exactly what to do next to solve their problem and ultimately make their lives easier.

An effective explainer animation will use visuals to illustrate each stage of the process, as well as speaking to them in a language that they’ll understand.


Keeping it to an ideal duration

This part often becomes a sticking point, as understandably many organisations will have quite a lot that they want to say to their audience. But when it comes to an explainer animation, less is most definitely more.

According to a case study, the optimum length for an explainer animation is around 90 seconds. Anything less than 45 seconds will struggle to get your point across, and anything longer than 2 minutes will run the risk of boring your audience and losing their attention.

Whilst there’s no rigid rule on exact timings, your explainer animation should really be only as long as it needs to. One common reason explainer animations become too long is when they stray away from their original purpose - to explain a solution to a problem. So keep the focus on the message in hand, make sure that you follow the formula, and this should keep it both concise and engaging.


Combining the right components

Explainer animations are essentially a combination of several elements that work in harmony with each other. These are as follows:

  • Script: This is the narration for the video and will ultimately convince people.
  • Storyboard: This is the rough visualisation of your script and will depict how your video will tell a story. The storyboard is the blueprint for your animation, so getting this right is half the battle!
  • Animation: This is the complex part and will take the most time. Animation is a form of digital art so will require the input of a highly skilled professional animator.
  • Voiceover: Your overall goal of your explainer animation is to sell in an idea, so you’ll want to choose a voice actor that is representative of your brand and audience.
  • Music: Whilst your visuals do most of the work in your explainer animation, background music and audio make up of 50% of a finished animation. Choosing the right background music can even help amplify how your viewers will feel when they see it.
  • Call to action: This is a fundamental element in any piece of marketing content, and it sadly very often gets overlooked. Your call to action will spur your audience into action by letting them know exactly what they can do next.

Making it accessible

Making sure your video content is accessible simply means creating it in a way that everyone can experience and enjoy. Think of accessibility as best practice for your explainer animation, no matter who’s watching it.

You should plan your explainer animation with accessiblility in mind from the very start. For example, if you’re including audio descriptions then you’ll need to allow enough time between scenes for these to be read. And if there are words on the screen as part of the video, you’ll want to make sure there’s enough time for your viewers to read them before the screen changes.

Choosing a suitable font and text size for your captions is also crucial, and you should make sure that there is room for these in your animation design so that they’re not overlaying anything important. For a more in depth look at making sure your video content is accessible, check out our recent blog here.

We’ve created a whole host of accessible explainer animations over the years, but this one we created for the National Institute for Health Research is one of our favourites.


If you’re interested in turning your complex message into an effective explainer animation, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with a member of our team today.