Microinteractions are small interactions that take place between one or two people in a website. They're often attached to a more extensive product, service, or interface. For example: when you pull down the notification bar on your phone and tap on an app icon to open it, this is a microinteraction. These tiny moments have been proven to make up a sizable part of the overall experience with a product for some users.
As a CMO, you need to think about how customers will use their company's products in their everyday life. It's essential not only to consider what those experiences might look like but also what they feel like. Microinteractions are just as integral as any other part of the design and can provide valuable insights into user behavior and emotional response. To understand the impact of microinteractions in the user experience, we asked UX and design experts.
What Is a Microinteraction?
A microinteraction is when a user interacts with the UX for a single-use case. These are interactions that can be made memorable with the right kind of design. Companies use micro-interactions to make their products addictive.
"Microinteractions are with us every day; we use them without even knowing it. If you've ever hit the "Like" button on one of your social media platforms or swiped left to archive a message, or seen a green checkmark after completed an action, you've witnessed a microinteraction," says Aaron Christian, Software Architect at Vancouver, Canada-based ImageX.
At its core, a microinteraction is essentially feedback or information a site or application gives you to confirm an action or let you know a portion of the site is interactive or processing. These appear everywhere in the websites and apps we use and can be as simple as a button changing colors when you hover your cursor (to let you know you can click it) or elaborate animations during load screens.
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Some Types of Microinteractions
There are so many kinds of microinteractions. It's very subjective, depending on your use case. Having great microinteractions on forms and landing pages can quickly boost conversions. Microinteractions, when done correctly, give users visual feedback that helps them figure out how to use certain parts of your website or app. "Take, for example, a button that moves when you hover over it; its movement informs visitors that it is a clickable button. In other words, by adding more visual feedback, you may help users understand the purpose of your website's components," adds Bram Jensen, CEO at Mountain View, CA.-based VPNAlert. With that in mind, it seems that microinteractions give users visual cues that enable straightforward usability.
Here are some of the microinteractions you could add to your website to improve the user experience:
- Tap and tap & hold effects
- Page transitions
- Progress bars
- Swipe effects
- Error sounds
How Do Microinteractions Impact a Website and Its Visitors?
When a visitor enters your website, it's the microinteractions that make your website memorable. People tend to remember this more than the features and other add-ons you provide. Sometimes, people wouldn't even be able to tell why they love your website as microinteractions usually work a lot more on the subconscious level.
- Reduce the Need for Scrolling: "Take an online banking application; a desktop user might expect to see 50-100 of their latest transactions. On a mobile device, this quickly becomes a scrolling game of patience. As a UXer, you must keep performance top of mind by giving the user the ability to use a simple microinteraction (i.e. "pull-down" or "swipe left") to see the next set of transactions," says Gladden.
- Create Effects to Signal Completed Actions: Swiping up for more content is one micro-interaction that developers for news apps and social media sites use to keep users on their app. Similarly, ecommerce sites can program celebratory effects when someone makes a purchase to try and compel someone to buy more goods.
- Indirect Branding: Microinteractions are a great way of introducing branded content indirectly. Ruben Gamez, CEO at Portland, OR.-based, DocuSketch, sheds light on this by saying, "Think of what kind of emotion you are trying to communicate with your visitors. Are you a cool brand? Are you a premium brand? Once you know the answer to this question, you'll be able to use microinteractions to show your brand."
Microinteractions have proven to be quite valuable in increasing conversion rates and overall user satisfaction with the product. For example, older digital products that are poor with microinteractions feel outdated, inadequate, and annoying to use.
Microinteractions are an absolute must for the modern user experience, and the worst UX crime you can make today is to ignore them. Seeing how these micro-interactions color our use of our favorite apps and the web as a whole shows just how critical they are to UX design. It's something that everyone should pay attention to when building a web or app presence.