Microinteractions: The Devil is in the Details
Even the grandest project depends on the success of the smallest components.
Designing and building a positive user experience is a multi-faceted process, but really, it centers on carefully considered interaction design. As we wrote in our latest ebook, an experience is only as good as the interactions within it, and microinteractions contribute massively to this concept.
The majority of your users are well-versed in all things digital and so are routinely looking for more than mere functionality when they engage with your website, product or service; they want to be wowed, left feeling delighted and like they’ve encountered something great. Microinteractions, and interaction design on the whole, is what makes this possible and what makes this happen.
With every interaction (and especially microinteraction) comes an opportunity to delight your users and foster a positive user experience that does more than ‘what it says on the tin’; and if you can’t offer the experience they’re looking for, you can be sure that someone else will.
In a nutshell, if you want happy customers, you must pay attention to the details.
What exactly are Microinteractions?
“The best products do two things well: features and details. Features are what draw people to your product; details are what keep them there. Microinteractions are those details. Details are a delivery system for emotions. They are the ‘feel’ part of ‘look and feel” – Dan Saffer, author of “Microinteractions: Designing with Details”
Microinteractions are the small, contained actions that only perform one main task. For example, the Facebook ‘like’ functionality is a well-known microinteraction — it only exists as a single use-case, to perform the task of ‘liking’ something. Microinteractions can be seen everywhere, from devices in your home to apps and online interfaces.
Why do Microinteractions matter?
They’re at the core of the user experience but microinteractions should be almost imperceptible; they should be a natural and intuitive element of your design. Users should be able to operate and engage with them almost without thinking.
However, this doesn’t mean that microinteractions should be ignored or require less attention from a design perspective. Because users expect them and almost don’t notice them being there, if they don’t function as they should, it may be even more noticeable.
It doesn’t matter how wonderful the main features of your website, product or service are if they are surrounded by frustration caused by non-functioning microinteractions. Dan Saffer compares this to having a hole in your shoe; no matter how well designed the shoe is or how visually appealing it is, if there is a hole in it, your overall experience of wearing the shoe will be vastly impacted for the worse.
With microinteractions come an opportunity to turn something mundane into something that contributes to the delight of your user. For example, if you can find a way to make changing the settings in your app even remotely enjoyable, you’ve created a good microinteraction.
Microinteractions exist everywhere, online and offline, and chances are, you’ve never even thought about some of them or realized they were in fact a well-designed functionality there to make your life easier. Have a think about it, how many you can identify in your daily activities? How many can you find on your smartphone alone? Here are some of the most well-known ones that we probably all encounter every day:
- The Facebook ‘like’ functionality
- The Hamburger menu
- ‘Pull to Refresh’
- The on/off switch
- Volume control
- Scroll bars
- Cut and paste
Good interaction design and in turn, a good user experience centers on carefully considered, well-designed microinteractions. These seemingly minor details are the difference between mere functionality and an experience that delights and ultimately feels intuitive to your users.
Microinteractions will only become more important as the spotlight continues to shine on UX; so stay ahead of the curve and start paying attention to microinteractions now. After all, even the grandest project depends on the success of the smallest components.
Have you seen any particularly good examples of microinteractions? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @usabilla
Want to learn more about the fundamentals of Interaction Design? Download our ebook now!