Billions of people around the world interact with smartphones every day to perform various actions, Example: Turning off the sound of a phone or pressing the play button of the youtube video, sign in to a social networking site, sliding down the screen to refresh a page…the possibilities are endless. Each of these actions occurs micro-interaction.
Micro-interactions are events that have one main task — a single purpose — and they’re found all over your device and within apps. Their purpose is to delight the user; to create a moment that is engaging, welcoming and, dare we say it — human.
Four Parts of Micro-interactions
The first part is what initiates the interaction. The trigger occurs when the user or the system activates the interaction. In the case of system triggers, certain requirements need to be met for activation. Take, for instance, a user that typed in a wrong password. A website’s prompt then asks if the password was forgotten and if the user wants to recover it. In this case, typing in the wrong password is the trigger.
The second part determines what happens when the micro-interaction has been activated. In the previous scenario, the rule is when the system must automatically ask whether the password was forgotten and if the user wishes to recover it. Rules should be invisible, only known to the designer, and molded to fit the needs of the customers.
The third part is when the system lets the user know what’s happening. This can happen visually, audibly, or by feel. Feedback notifies the visitor that the micro-interaction has been initiated. In the password example, the feedback would be the prompt stating that the password was typed wrong and that it needs to be typed again (or that the forgotten password needs to be replaced).
Loops & Modes
The fourth part determines the meta-rules of the micro-interaction, i.e. what happens when the conditions or requirements change. A loop determines the length and repetition of a micro-transaction—in our example, the number of times a person can type in a wrong password. Modes, on the other hand, determine what happens over time—that is, three wrong password inputs will block the account.
Why Micro-interactions Matter
So why do micro-interactions matter?
For one, they make navigation easier, which should be the goal of all designers and developers. Better navigation means users stay, buy, and visit again.
They also improve the rate of interactions, provide real-time information, and make users feel that their experience matters. They also help guide the customers by giving them tips and instructions wherever they are in the buying process.
Micro-interactions can be considered as the little things a digital store clerk does to meet the customers’ every need. If the digital clerks take good care of the users, they will feel good and want to come back. Micro-interactions help improve the chances of leaving a good impression.
When To Use Micro-interactions
In the UX/UI, micro-interactions are touted as the powerhouse when it comes to communicating with the user. Below are the top seven micro-interactions and their impact on user experience:
Swipe Feature.The Swipe action eliminates tapping and is much more interactive and smooth. It helps the user quickly switch between the tabs and acquire more information about the product. Furthermore swiping is a very common gesture and guides the users subconsciously without making them think; just like we have been reading ‘Don’t make your users think’.
Current System Status It is essential to keep the user informed about the current status happening on a site or app. If the users are not informed chances are that they will get annoyed and close the site or app. Micro-interactions let the user know exactly what is going on, how long it will take the process to complete etc. Even failure messages can be humorous yet effective to retain the trust of the user.
Tutorials. Nowadays, writing actionable and easy-to-follow blog post remains useful, but it is not enough in this fast-paced cyber age. Micro-interactions can help create a fun and interactive step-by-step tutorials for users to easily learn and engage with a product or service.
Call to Action Micro-interactions essentially nudges the user to interact with an application or website. Call to action instills a feeling of achievement and also empathy factor in user behavior and the best way to make your user interact with CTA is to make it engaging to entice the interest of the user.
Animated input fields. Animations will make simple processes interesting and clearer—such as highlighting and zooming in fields when inputting data on sign up forms, credit card details, and the like.
Animated Buttons They play the role of information manager by letting the user know their way through your app or site. We need to pay attention to color, shape, special effects, animations, placement, and texture to make the user experience seamless.
Notifications. Folks who have short attention spans and might forget a product or a pending transaction. A simple micro-interaction via a notification can reel them back in to start or finish a transaction.
Humans, and even more the tech generations, want things instantly. Whenever a micro-interaction can provide that immediate gratification to end users, develop a good strategy around it and design to use it.
Tips On Designing Micro-Interactions
Micro-interactions are not an overnight success. For these to be effective, designers and web developers need to pay attention to details and keep the following tips in mind:
- Keep it micro and effective. A micro-interaction shouldn’t be seen until it’s needed. And when it’s needed, make sure it works. It shouldn’t be the focal point of a website nor should it be a source of error or take too much time to complete.
- Make them age well. A micro-interaction should be as pleasant the first and tenth time the user interacts with it.
- Build on knowledge. Use the information available on user behavior to apply micro-interactions that cater to them.
- Create harmony. Make sure that micro-interactions not only look and react well but also don’t disturb other UI elements.
- Lead their eyes. Physical principles dictate UX principles. Since humans are keen to follow lines, give them horizontal and vertical elements. Avoid oblique lines and circles.
Micro-interactions play an essential role in a user’s understanding of computer systems. They give the user feedback, both good and bad, on what the current status of the system is, what the result of their actions will be or what has already happened as a result of their action and tells them what they should do next.
This feedback can add an element of personality to a user’s experience when interacting with a website or app. They can be used to take away the dull, negligible aspect of using computer systems and make it far more enjoyable and memorable.