Almost all image editors have the following checkerboard background for showing transparent images:

My app lets users view transparent images (only view, not edit) with a background of their choice. There's an option for selecting the above background, but instead of that static background, it has another option for a scrolling checkerboard background:

(The animation is smooth in the app.)

It also has options for black, gray, white color backgrounds.

I want to know whether this is an useful option or should I remove it?

If it is useful how should the background scroll: diagonally, vertically or horizontally?

  • 4
    It's hard to say without seeing the real app, but I can say that animation makes me feel a little bit nauseous. What purpose does the animation provide?
    – Kit Grose
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 10:15
  • The app lets the user see transparent images with the above backgrounds. Think of it like Photoshop, only thing is that it doesn't let you edit. The background is changeable by the user. What purpose does the animation provide? This is what I want to know. If it is not useful I won't add the option.
    – Elmo
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 10:18
  • I'll go with Kit on this one, having that moving background actually makes my stomach turn... Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 11:07
  • 1
    Why did you come up with this option, if you didn't have a problem with the "normal" view?
    – Lovis
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 12:48
  • @L.Möller Just wanted to know whether users will have a matter-of-preference for this background.
    – Elmo
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 14:25

5 Answers 5


I don't know how useable the animation would be, it might make it tricky to spot probelms as it's always moving, I would just offer a few background options, Checked, Black, White and maybe a bright green/pink.


Unlike the other answerers, I don't find it nauseating at all, and have been annoyed by situations with gray ambiguity in the past and resorted to creating a new layer solid contrast color by hand.  I certainly wouldn't make it the only option, but if it's readily toggleable it could be useful to a good many users.

The speed is a bit fast, so I guess I can see how others would be nauseated by this¹.  I'd shoot for about 1/4 speed of what you have it running at in the .exe demo.

As for direction, try cycling the angle of movement from 0° to 360°.  It must be slow; otherwise this'll really piss off the other commenters.  Something around 30-60 seconds per full-circle cycle.

As for the argument that “it's distracting and i don't like it and no one will ever use it”… you're the designer here.  Many graphic programs allow customization of transparency grid's colors and size… offering movement as an option just might be a stand-out feature for some.  Just because some people can't handle it doesn't mean it wouldn't be useful to others.

¹ With other products in my past known to have nauseating effects on a portion of the population (Nintendo Virtual Boy, 3DS, iOS 7 parallax), I sense some kind of balance dis-calibration, but am not afflicted by it.  I also have no issues with the rocking of boats, unlike a well-known portion of the population.


I can imagine that you would want to switch this option on if, and only if, you were editing an image that has grey in it that is the same shade as the grey squares and/or white areas indistinguishable from the white squares.

There are other ways to achieve this effect that don't involve nauseating animations, for example, you could let the user choose different colours for the background.


The animation is disturbing me, it makes uncomfortable and this is probably going to happen to other people. You can try to reduce the effect, change direction and test it until you get a satisfying result but I'm not sure it's worth the effort and researches (I'm not even sure if there is a satisfying result). This is the first reason why I think you shouldn't do that : some people won't be able to look at it.

Making the background moves also makes the user's task harder, especially if he wants to look at the shape's contour. It's hard to focus on a fixed image while the background is moving.

I think the animation brings something interesting but the case you are describing is not suitable for it.


I would put an option to turn it on and off. I can kinda see how it can be nauseating so I think, put a warning and an on and off switch for people who are a little more sensitive than others. I dont think you should remove it because other people cant look at it without getting nauseated.

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