Micro-interactions are a great way to improve the user experience (UX) of your website or app. They can help guide users through a task, provide feedback, and even add a bit of fun and personality.
When used effectively, these small and functional animations can make your UX more intuitive, efficient, and enjoyable.
In this article, I will explain what these are. I will also give you some examples and show you how you can use them to improve your website.
First of all, what exactly are micro-interactions?
Micro-interactions are small, preferably functional animations that support the user by giving visual feedback and displaying changes more clearly.
We see them every day. When we switch our phone to silent mode, it makes that little vibration, when we scroll down to reload a page, and the loading symbol appears at the top. Even turning on a faucet using a sensor. All of these are micro-interactions.
While they may not seem highly visible or important, they are. They’re ingrained in our brains. They let us know that the action we just completed actually did something.
In a very simple and direct way, micro-interactions are usability resources aimed at helping the user during the use of a product or service.
What is the impact of micro-interactions on the user experience?
Although it goes unnoticed, micro-interaction is essential to provide a good experience of using a product or service. With small punctual feedback, the user can engage and even have more pleasure during an interaction.
And wanna hear the most interesting thing? Many times, the micro-interactions are not even remembered by the user. And why is that? Because everything happens naturally for the parties.
Examples of Micro-Interactions We Experience Daily (And Practically Don’t Pay Attention To):
Google or YouTube search suggestion
Do you know when you are going to do a search on Google or YouTube and the search engine already suggests some possibilities that may be of interest to you?
Despite seeming magical, as the success rate of the suggestions is extremely high, this is not magic. The feature of completing a sentence is a micro-interaction process that seeks, precisely, to make the user’s life easier.
Thus, it is possible to do a much faster search to solve a problem or question of the moment. Point for the experience and satisfaction of the internet user at that time.
Audible warning of not using the seat belt
Some modern vehicles have an interesting audible alert feature when the seat belt is not fastened. You definitely know this one and you probably find it annoying. But, in addition to preserving the safety of vehicle members, we also have a considerable improvement in the usability of the vehicle.
So, what is the importance of micro-interactions in this case? This small alert is capable of saving the lives of passengers in an eventual accident. Therefore, micro-interactions not only serve to improve usability but also to raise the standard of quality and safety of a product.
The “Like” Button on Facebook
The “like” button on Facebook is perhaps the most famous micro-interaction in the world. It’s a simple button that allows users to show their approval (or disapproval) of a post with a single click.
This micro-interaction is so successful because it is simple and easy to use. It doesn’t require any explanation, and it is instantly gratifying. When you see that someone has liked your post, you feel good, and when you like someone else’s post, you make them feel good.
This button is a perfect example of how a micro-interaction can improve the user experience by making it more enjoyable and satisfying.
The Progress Bar on YouTube
Another great example of a micro-interaction is the progress bar on YouTube. This simple feature shows you how much of a video you’ve watched and how much time is left.
This micro-interaction is useful because it allows users to keep track of their progress and see how much time they have left. It also serves as a motivation tool, urging users to keep watching.
The progress bar on YouTube is a perfect example of how a micro-interaction can improve the user experience by providing valuable information and encouraging users to take action.
Here is an interesting article on the origins of famous micro-interactions.
The Four Pillars of Micro-Interaction Design
Now let us first understand the basic elements of micro-interaction.
This initiates the action (starts the micro-interaction). It majorly involves clicking or touching the specific elements of the interface. And, it can be broken up into two groups.
User-initiated triggers happen when someone interacts with the product intentionally. These are things like the flip of a switch or the push of a button. In many modern devices, it could even be a clap or a wave of the hand. System triggers are automatic and occur when certain conditions are met. Your air fryer beeping when your fries are done or the chime you hear when you receive a text message is a system trigger.
The rules provide you with the conditions that will make micro-interaction happen.
This helps the users to understand that the micro-interaction is successful. It is the signal to the user that their action has been acknowledged. It can be a sound, a visual cue, vibration, movement or something else.
#4: Loops and Modes
This is the last stage of the interaction. The purpose of the loop is to find out the duration of interaction while modes take care of other less common actions that assist users to continue with the process. When you finish a load of laundry, your washing machine will play a sound and if you don’t open the washer door, it will repeat to remind you. You want to be reminded that your wet clothes are finished so they don’t sit there and get moldy.
In this case, it’s important, but not every micro-interaction needs to be repeated.
To sum it up: The trigger initiates the feedback, the rules define what type of feedback occurs, and the loops and modes help define special cases where that feedback occurs or not.
Things To Avoid When Improving Your UX Through Micro-Interactions
Not Defining the Purpose of the Micro-interaction
One of the most common mistakes when designing micro-interactions is not clearly defining the purpose of the interaction. What are you trying to achieve with this micro-interaction? What goal does it help the user accomplish?
Without a clear purpose, they can quickly become confusing and frustrating for users.
Making the Micro-interaction Too Complex
Another common mistake is overcomplexity. Micro-interactions should be designed to be simple and easy to understand. Making them needlessly complex can quickly become overwhelming and confusing for users.
Not Testing It
Even the skilled and experienced designers didn’t get the perfect designs on the floor. Testing helps reduce usability flaws before market launch. This is why user testing and interactive design reduce usability flaws before product launch. Micro-testing is tested for usability and revised during the next design phase.
The key takeaway here is that micro-interactions help make sites and products unique and desirable. Micro-interactions can be very short moments, yet their effect on the user experience is undeniable.
That is why, if you care about user experience, you must care about micro-interactions.