In design, first impression is actually the last for users. Designers buckle down to create robust and interactive interfaces so that they can keep the visitors hooked for long. In keeping up with the human-centered approach, creators make sure the interface is like a good friend to the user which in turn also enhances the overall experience.
In UX, it is important to consider the behavior of users and how they feel about a particular product. Even small details require proper attention as they can turn the things in your favor. And this is where Microinteractions come into play as they acknowledge the users and give them the necessary feedback and understanding of the current process, thereby making the interface more interactive. So, if individual interactions are like the cells that frame UX, then Microinteractions are the atoms contained in these cells.
In fact, for a better understanding you can say, microinteractions are present everywhere and make up the big, such as turning on an appliance or logging into an online service or even getting the weather forecast in a mobile app. They provide powerful feedback that turns the interface weightless for the users, all because of quick transitions.
It is a common tendency to overlook microinteractions in the greater scheme of things, but trust me these are very important for a satisfying experience. Little things like knowing you have a new notification or you have turned on a feature or changed a setting can make a huge difference in changing outlook towards the product. With the advancement in technology, designers have been able to get a greater hold into tinier interactions and will be able to dive deeper in future, but let’s just say, microinteractions, as of now, are the new frontier.
1. The Role
Microinteractions even though tiny are a powerhouse when it comes to communicating with the user. Below are the functions they generally fulfill :-
Achieving a separate, individual task like connecting one device to another, commenting on a friend’s post
Informing feedback or the result of a task performed
Checking for user error
Changing a setting
Here are some examples of typical microinteractions that we face-
Pull to refresh UI setup
Animation informing that an item is added to cart
Vibration notification when you switch an iPhone to mute
2. The Importance
The question that arises is why do microinteractions work with the users? The answer is that they aptly meet the user’s need for acknowledgement. The best part is that microinteractions fine-tune human-centered design. Besides making the users happy, microinteractions are great from the business perspective as well.
Microinteractions help the product to be a frontrunner amidst the other products in the market. By putting personal touches, it grants identity, enhances adoption and promotes brand loyalty. And yes, this will make the users come back for more. Microinteractions successfully differentiate your product from other products by creating features which are distinct and stand out in totality. Also, be it direct or subdued, microinteractions are a great tool to guide users on the working of system for a particular brand.
Data can be collected successfully in an engaging manner through microinteractions, for instance Facebook has an insight dashboard that studies preferences based on like and share buttons.
So, what was just a casual micro moment of interest becomes a useful ground for market research and engagement tracking. Further, by providing immediate feedback on the action, more control is given to users which help in increasing usability.
Refines User Experience
Microinteractions without doubt are the best ingredient for the recipe of UX. An excellent framework meets the criteria of learnability, efficiency, memorability, error management and satisfaction and ultimately gives the user delight in choosing the product.
Microinteractions are good in dissolving frustrating moments by turning them into a pleasant experience.Additionally, the appearance of system status provides assurance to the user and makes the brand trustworthy. Even by way of visual rewards, users will feel satisfied and be more inclined towards the product. Microinteractions through simple instructions are a great deal in meeting expectations of the visitors and have become somewhat a norm for every design.
3. Potential Areas
The best part about microinteractions is that they can be inserted in a variety of places and likely actions owing to their brief framework. They can be used in the areas like adjusting setting preferences e.g. volume, switching on/off the features or UI itself, updating and downloading, notifications etc. Some of the potential opportunities are explained below-
Visibility of System Status
It is essential to keep the user informed about the happenings on a site or app. Users often expect to get responses without much delay. But there are circumstances where the app consumes time before the action is completed. So, it is better that the interface tells the user about what is going on exactly. Avoid making your users bored while waiting and show them the progress to engage them and keep confusion at bay.
At times it is important to show notifications to ensure that the users see it. In this scenario, animation can help a lot. It will capture users’ attention and won’t let them miss what is significant. Do follow the KISS principle and keep the microinteractions small and simple.
Work in Context
To create smooth transitions between navigational contexts, it is better to utilize motion and then highlight the changes in the placement of elements on a screen. This is quite applicable for mobile devices and smart watches as it is very tricky to adjust lot of information on one screen. Transport the users between screens in a clear, smooth and effortless manner so that they gauge what is appearing from which place.
Microinteractions make the process of data input exceptional. You can even employ existing elements to give feedback. It is through them you can get access of information and thus, help the users accomplish their goal.
Microinteractions prompt the users to interact. They instill the empathy factor in user experience. But take care that the visual hints and animations are relevant to the choice of users. Do consider the longevity in mind and evaluate that whether microinteractions will be universally appreciated or criticized by one and all after repeated use. Never ignore the user emotions as they play a significant role in user interactions. Take decisions based on context and user research as well as design for repeated use.
Microinteractions should not suffice the current needs only. Scalability is a factor that must be kept in mind. A Microinteraction should be such that it offers delight to the users and keeps them going through the application rather than acting as a distraction when used repeatedly.
The Human Side
Want to create a successful microinteraction? Go the human-centered design path. You can conveniently use emotions to make the users feel special. They should feel welcomed while performing a particular task like submitting feedback or filling information.
Simplicity is Best
Microinteraction focuses on one task at a time and hence, it must be small and simple. Avoid complications of any sort and beware of confusing it with macrointeractions in an attempt to broaden its reach.
Animations are a great way to guide the users about the launch of an application by way of marking basic features and controls that are important in function and required for further usage with fluidity.
4. The Steps
Smooth microinteractions go through a four-step process in creation :-
It is the visual hint or force that prompts towards action. For instance, the numbered floor button gives the visual hint and thereafter, pushing the button is the trigger. There are two types of trigger: manual (where the person interacts with the system) and system (when a condition or set of conditions are completed).
These are the parameters that the microinteraction meets, that is, the function that it performs. For example, here when you hit the button, the elevator takes you to that floor.
It is the verification given to the user about the performance of microinteraction. For example, as soon as the button lights up, people are aware that the lift will take them as per instruction.
Loops and Modes
It is the step that considers how the microinteraction is reused, what it is the duration it lasted, how it changed for further uses and also, if the user can adapt the aspects according to settings/preferences. For instance, in elevator the loop is the recognition that the button gives to the user about the function also applicable to different elevators, thus not making the pushing process tricky. As microinteractions are brief in nature they must be suitable for repeated use. In elevators, modes can be the color of feedback light or the typography of the number of floor, which can vary in different cases.
If you desire to have a valuable user experience, spice up your interface with microinteractions. They influence the user journey, although invisible, provide visual delight once discovered. Follow a human-centered approach and pay attention to each and every detail. Microinteractions are more governed on user research and insight rather than developmental processes. Stick to existing design guidelines and principles to achieve successful microinteractions, so that you can transform the conversion rate of your product.
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