UI Design
5 min read

Micro-interactions: Your subtle way to elevate your digital experiences

Written by
Saad Arafat
Published on
August 31, 2022

Overview

Every day when browsing the internet, you’re coming across 100s of different - Subtle - micro-interactions that help you have a seamless experience that goes unnoticed. That’s the whole point of micro-interactions. They are not just there to look good, but also they are here to help you have a fucking good experience that goes unnoticed. Why unnoticed? Because when we are using a website, app, or any device and we can get the job easily done on it, we’re focused on the task at hand rather than how to carry out the task at hand.

Additionally, micro-interactions eliminate the need to continuously guess what’s happening at every interaction because it’s constantly providing us with immediate feedback on the status of their interaction. This immediate feedback provides the user with a sense of control, a sense that's important if you want them to have a pleasant experience.

In this article, I won’t go over why you need micro-interactions, because we all know by now that they’re essential in UX/UI design and the impact they have on your bottom line ($). But I’ll go over what might happen if you don’t implement any sort of micro-interactions and just stick with a static website/app/software that makes the user Think More. Plus, how they work.

Main points, how does the lack of micro-interactions hurt your website’s or app’s user experience?

  1. It makes the user think more
  2. It makes it harder to navigate through the pages
  3. Users might repeat the same journey just to get to one outcome
  4. Users will feel lost due to the lack of immediate feedback
  5. Users will focus more on how to get the task done rather than getting it done

So instead of reading a long article on how it’ll hurt your user experience, I’ve summarized them into those few points, so let’s jump on how they work.

How do micro-interactions work?

Breaking the elements of micro-interactions into 4 parts:

  1. Trigger
  2. Condition
  3. Feedback
  4. Loop

Let me explain each one of them with some examples to give an idea of what each one means.

Element 1: Trigger

This is what starts the micro-interaction. It could be you hovering over a button, clicking a button, or any other action that the user or the system could take. The system trigger happens if a task status is changing. The goal is to provide the user with immediate feedback on what has happened. Here’s an example of a micro-interaction that shows you who’s online.

courtesy of Sebastian Mantel

Element 2: Condition

This provides the visual queue that the interaction has ended. The conditions you set and their visual queues are based on the initial trigger. The ending of the micro-interaction could be just to end it, or in some cases, you’ll need to present a success or fail message (that’s also subtle) to indicate to the user that the trigger has ended. Here’s an example.

Courtesy of Mauricio Bucardo

Element 3: Feedback

This element is focused on showing the user what has happened once they’ve triggered the interaction. Similar to the previous example, you can clearly see that the interaction provides immediate feedback to the user on what’s going on. But here’s also another example of what else it could look like.

Courtesy of Friðlaugur Jónsson

Element 4: Loops

As you can see, all of these interactions have a start and an end that feels seamless and should go unnoticeable. The beginning and end of the interaction are determined by the trigger, feedback, and the conditions set for it. No matter what it is, it should feel seamless and set in a timely manner so that you can provide feedback to the user on time.

The takeaway of micro-interactions

These design elements help improve the overall user experience and not just make the app or website “look good”. So keep it minimal and only use it when needed. Use it to make the user feel in control of their interactions and that they are the ones doing the task and the other way around. So less is more in this situation because if you use so many unnecessary micro-interactions, they’ll be Macro-interaction broken down into pieces. So stick to its name and use it when needed.

If you need help improving your sites or app user experience, you can book your free report for your app or website, and we’ll provide you with an actionable plan on how we'll tackle the missed opportunities you might be having.

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