Micro interactions are the latest (possible biggest) UX trend to be recorded so far, thus critical for modern design which can’t go without them anymore. We are surrounded by micro interactions, as they are present on every website, app, or program we’re using.
By micro interaction, we refer to every task-like engagement of users with their devices, smooth enough to pass unnoticed as the user is performing his usual activities. That’s, of course, when the micro interaction is properly executed.
There are several things micro interactions serve for:
- Communicating statuses or feedback
- Revealing results from particular actions
- Helping manipulation
It is easy to overlook micro interactions in the general design scheme, and that’s because designers happen to miss the fact it is micro interactions that hold the scheme and the experience together. From this perspective, micro interactions are the small bits of communication that help users navigate the interface, and perform basic functions:
- To communicate feedback or results for their actions
- To accomplish personal and isolated tasks (connecting devices, liking posts, and so on).
- To manipulate the setting
- To prevent errors
In modern web design, even the tiniest details need to be considered carefully. Micro interactions, for instance, will help users understand the process they’re about to participate in, and approach the interface easily as complicated as its logic may be.
That’s why micro interactions appear in many different forms – they can be extremely formal, but also cartoony and fun, usually placed straight against the website’s backdrop to reinforce brand awareness. What is most impressive about them is that they make the experience more entertaining, with slightly more fun than usual to help us learn new things, or simply know we’ve handled the digital world challenges correctly.
Some everyday examples of microinteractions
Pull To Refresh
Why make the user stop scrolling, lift their finger, then tap a button? Why not have them continue the gesture that they are already in the process of making? When I want to see newer stuff, I scroll up. So I made scrolling itself the gesture.
Typing Indicator in Chat
Back then, chatting in real time via text was for most people a very new thing. A good chunk of communication is knowing when it is and isn’t your turn to speak (another chunk is vocal nuance, which is partly addressed by emoticons); on a half-duplex line (where only one person can speak at a time) like a walkie-talkie, you really do have to say “over” to make sure your partner doesn’t miss anything. But latent full-duplex (where people can talk at the same time but transmission is delayed until you, say, hit Enter), like instant messaging, has its own problems. If your chat partner’s gone silent, it might be hard to know whether they were typing some huge message or if she was waiting for you to say something. We couldn’t enforce any particular etiquette among users, hence the typing indicator.