Microinteractions are all around us. They represent small moments where users interact with design (user interface), moments that play a vital role in our digital life. Most people notice them only when they are absent, which does not diminish their importance.
In fact, it only goes to show that they are essential to user experience (UX). We can hardly imagine our online endeavors without staples like Facebook like buttons, typing indicators in chat boxes, and download progress bars. They are brief, but recurring and habit-forming experiences that add up. Here is how to make the most of them and give birth to a swell UX.
Microinteractions can be defined as contained product moments that involve a single use case. They guide decisions on a daily basis and profoundly shape the UX. Ideally, they give users a mindless walk-through of the digital environment. The beauty of it is that these small elements drive engagement for a small cost. They are reliable workhorses designed for a long, long race. Therefore, designers need to plan their products around them right from the get-go.
First off, recognize that there are four core elements that constitute microinteractions:
- loops & modes
Designers and developers need to get each one of them right and nurture a strong synergy between them.
When it comes to triggers, the key decision is related to choosing user- or system-initiated interactions. After either type of trigger kicks in, rules come into play to determine what happens next. By their grace, users know what to expect, regardless of whether they tapped a certain button for the first or 100th time. Furthermore, feedback is there to let people know what is happening. It can take the form of visual and audio cues. Most often it manifests as an animation or a change in the interface. Finally, loops & modes set meta-rules that govern microinteractions.
Users as a focal point
To work miracles with microinteractions, designers must know not only their moving parts but also what purpose they serve. Well, one thing is for certain: they are not a gimmick or an eye candy. On the contrary, they are a highly functional facet of design initiated by simple and quick moves of the finger (such as swiping, tapping, and sliding). They give us means of improving the usability of a mobile app and familiarizing users with the interface.
So, to get the ball rolling, dive into data. Develop a deeper understanding of the user base its habits. Draw ideas from the context behind interactions and do a comprehensive research. In case you encounter a creative or technical roadblock, draw inspiration and ideas from leading agencies for mobile app design development. After all, they are killing it with microinteractions.
They also know that one cannot change the long-established user patterns and not even think of swimming against that current. They stick to tried-and-true mainstays of visual communications. Red should always mean stop, should it not? That being said, it is always a good idea to bring something fresh and new to the table. Animations inject personality into the app and hold great potential to increase your brand image and appeal. So, unify them into a single theme and visual style to pull people in.
Getting under their skin
The chief development goal should be to seamlessly incorporate microinteractions into web design, web app design, and mobile app design. In more concrete terms, designers must focus on smartly influencing human behavior and directing decisions. You can think of microinteractions as signs and pathways that allow users to navigate the app environment. People need to rely on them often and repeatedly. After some time, they become an integral part of the habit.
Here, we touch on the aspect that has a lot to do with human psychology. Namely, every user wants maximum rewards for minimum effort. There is no other way to delight them but to deliver this instant gratification. Enable them to accomplish their goals and give them an extra dash of joy along the way. Save their time by instantly communicating a piece of information and facilitating a predictable outcome. Align the action and reaction.
On the other hand, never encourage guesswork or stir confusion. Give users a sense of control. For example, instead of presenting a blank screen, you are better off visually explaining what is going on with a progress bar. At the same time, do not go overboard. Steer away from loops of visual noise and clutter. Ditch pointless animated microinteractions that only disrupt the steady flow of UX. Less is more and fluidity always better than friction. That is to say to never craft microinteractions that are distracting or invasive— that would hamper user experience and defeat the whole purpose. Therefore, see to it that they do not take away attention from the product workflow. They can remain visible only for a slight moment before they fade away. Keep them small, simple, and clear. Finally, to maximize chances of success, keep an eye on development trends and know that the devil is in the obvious detail.
Microinteractions pave the inroads for behavioral patterns and habits, acting as cells that make up the very fabric of UX. So, if you mean business, it is time to see the world of design through the eyes of end users. Make sure they are taken on a smooth ride, where they are not bored, but informed and engaged. Infuse UX with extra flavor and appeal and elevate your branding efforts. Harness the immense power of microinteractions to delight your users and foster a stellar user journey. You should be able to increase engagement rates and keep them hooked, constantly coming back for more.
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