Modern businesses need to stay constantly relevant to their consumer bases if they want to survive, and one of the best methods for doing that is driving customer engagement and creating valuable, memorable experiences.
Content is a crucial part of this, as is responsive web design that reacts intuitively on various screens and devices. However, one technique with tremendous potential for driving engagement that often goes overlooked is micro-interactions.
Micro-interactions are the little animations or visual responses users see when they perform certain actions. An example would be the “Follow” icon filling in when you click it to follow a Twitter account, or the small, colorful flash that happens after you “Favorite” a Tweet. These may seem frivolous at first, but micro-interactions have a significant psychological impacton users, and the reasons micro-interactions are meaningful are rooted in human psychology.
Micro Animation of Like by Roman Wagner.
Micro-Interactions Play on Human Nature
Many of us perform countless micro-interactions every day without realizing it. Any time you engage in simple, quick actions with an interface (such as swiping your phone screen to ‘snooze’ your alarm in the morning), you are having a micro-interaction.
As with any interaction, there is an action and a reaction. A user performs an action, and the interface on which it was performed responds to let the user know they successfully performed the intended action.
Volume Control Micro Animation by Nick Buturishvili.
A micro-interaction conveys to the user an action has been performed. Once the action has been performed, the user receives an indication of some kind to let him or her know they succeeded in their intention.
Micro-interactions guide users to where they can manipulate or interact with elements of an interface. The four basic elements of a micro-interaction are:
- The Trigger: This is what initiates an action. On most interfaces, this includes clicking or touching specific elements of the interface.
- Rules for Responses: The micro-interaction bases the response on how the user interacted.
- Feedback: This is the response that lets the user know the action was performed successfully.
- Loops: The end of the cycle is whatever happens next. Clicking a “Share” button on a social media post results in a notification to the user that the post has been “Shared,” and the result is a new post on the user’s profile.
This may sound basic, but there is a psychological factor that explains why these micro-interactions are meaningful: people generally enjoy knowing they have performed an action correctly. A good micro-interaction accomplishes this quickly and efficiently.
Designing good micro-interactions requires understanding that these instances largely go unnoticed by the user, but that does not mean they are meaningless. These small indications tell the user they succeeded in a task – however small – and generally make life easier by limiting uncertainty<.
Micro-Interactions Make or Break Apps
Micro-interactions definitely have a place in webpages and desktop applications, but where they truly shine is in the realm of mobile apps. Touchscreens would be clumsy and awkward to navigate without micro-interactions, and poorly conceived micro-interactions are going to push users away.
There are countless apps in existence, and many mirror the capabilities or serve the same functions as others.
Notification Micro Animation by Gal Shir.
You more than likely have a favorite weather app, a preferred social media platform, or other apps on your smartphone that you choose based on personal preference. Take the time to analyze what you like about those apps and why you chose them over others. You’ll likely find it is due to various forms of micro-interactions.
You choose your favorite apps based on how you interact with them and how they respond to your inputs. Despite their simplicity, these are the little details that spark interest and keep users engaged.
When crafting micro-interactions for your site, it’s vital to consider several factors:
This article and image was adapted from speckyboy.com