How to Use Microinteractions to Enhance UX and User Engagement
Content writer at @Ionixx Technologies;
Hoping to empower the world with as many words as possible.
They may say, "The harder the journey, the better the destination." But, you don't want to lose another user just because the UX of your application is giving them a hard time. Maybe focussing on the journey is more important. That is why it is also said that the journey is more important than the destination. The more eventful and detailed your UX journey is, the more the number of users will start using your product.
What are microinteractions?
Microinteractions are small moments or tasks made to offer users with a delightful experience. Simple UI animations, liking content, swiping to refresh data, changing a setting, are all microinteractions.
They bridge the gap between the user and the technology used in an application through human connection. By guiding users intuitively and subtly, they encourage them to keep coming back for more. In other words, microinteractions enhance the UX
and make the product easy to use and enjoyable.
Image source :google
Why microinteractions are the essence of UX design?
Charles Eames once said, "The details are not the details, they make the design." Microinteractions are similar to tiny elements of design that may look unimportant but have the potential to change the whole UX game. To build an exceptional website, including interactions is vital. They prove to be beneficial for your business.
Image Source: Google
Microinteractions change the way users navigate through a website and make it easier than ever. Users can interact with an app seamlessly. Moreover, they acknowledge users with instant and relevant feedback whenever they complete some action on the app.
Microinteractions make the user experience more rewarding, letting users share, like and comment on the content. In other words, microinteractions add emotion to your web or mobile app and allows users to connect with an app heart to heart.
How to design great microinteractions?
One can experiment with a hundred new design solutions
and come up with new ways to impress users. This is one of the major reasons that make microinteraction designing exciting for designers.
Image Source: Google
However, every designer must follow a set of good practices for creating engaging and purposeful microinteractions:
- Empathise with your users by stepping into their shoes. See where you are facing problems in using the application or product. Figure out the pain points and start working on them.
Ensure the animations you add have a function. Instead of only focussing on developing aesthetically pleasing animations, designers must check if such animations can enhance the overall UX.
- Understand how your user feels and try to entertain them easily. Pleasant user experience will earn you loyal customers who will be able to connect with the app well and keep returning to use it. Is possible, add a human touch to the app.
- Keep things simple and don't clutter your app with unnecessary animations, they can irritate your users. Maintain a balance between developing attractive UX that fulfils the requirements of the users.
Tools needed to design microinteractions
While there are numerous tools out there, it is uncertain to decide which tool a microinteraction task requires. Some of the tools that designers require to design microinteractions for mobiles include Xcode, Framer and Android Studio if you are familiar with coding. But, Framer also works for designing microinteractions for the web along with the CSS animation tool.
Image Source: Google
Depending on the type of detail you want to incorporate into your microinteractions, one may need different tools. To develop a detailed interaction, Principle, Protopie, Adobe CC and Origami Studio work well. Also, to add animations to your detailed interactions, use After Effects.
What does the structure of microinteractions consist of?
Microinteractions are all about adding details to the existing UX and make it a powerhouse of seamless interaction and engagement with the users. There are four elements of a microinteraction.
Image source: Google
Here is an elaborate explanation of each of these microinteractions.
A trigger is an event that starts the process of microinteractions. Whenever a user or the system activities interaction, a trigger occurs. It encourages users to take action. There are two types of triggers - manual triggers and system triggers.
User-initiated trigger: These triggers happen when a user interacts with a product intentionally. This could be a toggle switch that can turn a component on and off. Even a push of a button or a clap or hand wave comes under the category of manual triggers.
System-initiated triggers: These type of triggers require a prerequisite event for activation. They occur automatically when a situation occurs. For instance, getting a notification on the phone when the installation of an app is complete is a system trigger. Another example of a system trigger is when a user starts a trigger by typing a wrong password. The wrong credentials prompt the user to enter the correct password.
Rules determine what happens to a microinteraction post activation. They determine how microinteractions acknowledge triggers. Designers have to ensure that these rules are easy-to-use and fulfil the requirements of the customers, with the least number of errors.
An excellent example of this is when users try to send email through Gmail without filling the “To” box. If anyone does so, Gmail prompts the user with an error dialogue- “Please specify at least one recipient.“ Users can fill the email addresses of their recipients to send the email.
The feedback event lets the users know that their action has been acknowledged. To verify microinteractions, feedback notifies users visually, audibly or by the sense of touch. A sound, vibration or animation in a smartphone can let users understand feedback. For example, when you use a fitness tracker app for walking, as soon as you reach your walking goal, your phone vibrates.
Another simple illustration of feedback is the validation method used in filling forms. While using forms, inline validation is helpful for users in understanding if something is wrong. If a user enters characters in a field that asks for age, a red cross mark will appear specifying the suitable format of characters for the field. Similarly, green checkmarks indicate the fields that users have filled correctly.
Loops and Modes
Both loops and modes represent the critical meta-rules of microinteractions. Loops define the period of micro-interactions and determine if they need repetitions or new requirements. One of the popular examples of loops is the way Google Photos makes a collection of photos as “memories from the previous year every month. Though this is done repetitively, it is not necessary to repeat each microinteraction.
Such user experiences adapt over time based on the behaviour of users. It also results in a better UX every time users interact with a product. With every loop of “memories”, users enjoy revisiting a collection of old pictures.
Modes are used to modify the way certain functionalities work. For instance, if you wish to put your phone on “Flight mode” or “DND mode”, it sets the phone to the respective modes. Another example is a circumstance when a user types an incorrect password more than three times. The account goes to a “blocked” mode for a certain period.
Getting into action: Some real-world examples
Microinteractions are a game-changer when it comes to communicating effectively with the user. In UX/UI, designers usually try to use unique ways to achieve this goal. Enhancing the user experience is necessary to keep your users content with an application. Here are a few real-world examples of microinteractions used in apps.
The swipe feature is more interactive than tapping. It is a common feature used to switch between tabs/windows. It allows users to navigate through an application effortlessly. One of the most popular apps for dating is Tinder. Swiping is an integral part of the UX. It is a microinteraction that serves the purpose of answering a yes or no to a question. Users can swipe right if they like or swipe left if they don't like their possible match.
Pull to refresh
Most of the browser applications don’t have a refresh button now. Users just have to press and hold to pull the screen and that is enough to reload a page. Designers can experiment with adding some attractive animations to keep the users engaged while the page is still loading.
For instance, the Zomato app
uses a unique technique to keep the users glued to the app. The app shows quirky facts about food from the world and lets users get lost in it for some time. Meanwhile, the page gets loaded and they forgot how much time the page needed to load.
Reacting to social media posts
The recent "care" reaction emoji added by Facebook for reacting to social media posts is one great example of how designers should empathise with users. Whether it is just the "like" button or the "Haha" button, such subtle microinteractions have become a common UX design pattern now. Many apps and websites use this micro-interaction to understand their users and make them feel connected with the application.
Things to keep in mind
Image source: Google
Simplicity is the key to create a good user experience. Never over-design. As their name implies, microinteractions must be “micro” and subtle. They should serve the purpose and not be heavily loaded actions. They should seamlessly flow with your overall design.
- Conduct thorough user research to understand your users, and their requirements very well. Designers should also analyze the context of their motivations to make effective decisions. According to the goals of the users, create apt microinteractions.
- Ensure the style of your micro-interactions connects with the overall interface design. They must be relevant and not be out of place, otherwise, users might find it confusing and distracting to use the product.
- Microinteractions should evolve with each loop. Designers must ensure that they constantly adapt to the context with every iteration. Users should not feel the same every time they use the app. For a first-timer, arrows for navigation and a tour through the application can help. But, such microinteractions might become redundant with each use for users.
- Designers should keep longevity in their minds. To build an effective UX, they should give importance to use intuitive and lucid transitions along with the minimalistic flat icons in an application.
- Make your UX relatable with your users. Add functional animations and a human touch to your product. Use face expressions and other animated features to bring some life to the user interface. Try to make your users feel warmer and more connected to an app. A human touch will make an app less mechanical.
Microinteractions are extremely important for UX design of any application to understand users' requirements and difficulties. A constant system of feedback guiding users what action they should take next, microinteractions are like empathetic mentors helping users find their way through an application. In other words, they add life to a product and make the experience enjoyable for all.
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