MicroInteractions!

By January 30, 2017Design, UX

In the last couple of years I have spent time trying to focus people on the small details, the very small details when it comes to digital and product design. Being in the user experience field I have always believed in the small little touches that make an experience just that tiny bit better and a little more polished.

So a recently read Dan Saffers book “Microinteractions” with great interest. Dan was inspired to write the whole book by one of his favorite quotes “The details are not the details. They make the design”. He couldn’t be more right.

In a recent article Dan said the following “For the last decade or so, designers have been encouraged to tackle ‘wicked problems’ and to address systems,” he tells Co.Design. “But when you’re working on such a macro scale, the details sometimes get lost, and it’s the details that make systems feel more human, and more humane. So I wanted to write a book that took a look, almost at the atomic level of design, of what makes details work.”

It inspired my little post about Microinteractions what they are, why they are important and how they will influence work moving forward.

Ok then, what is it?

A micro-interaction is any singular engagement with a device. Micro-interactions happen all around you without you even noticing for the most part, from the click of an on/off switch to skipping from one song to the next on your favourite music service (Spotify if your asking). From liking a friend post on social media to quickly replying to a text message. The majority of these engagements tend to be what users very rarely think about, when it comes to how they work or look.

Microinteractions can do multiple different things:

  • Communicate to the user bit of feedback
  • Help the user see the result of an action
  • Help the user manipulate something.

These microinteractions are key in taking your design or product to the next level – from a user experience perspective they are massively important to how the user feels using your product.

[ever notice the youtube favicon icon changes based on the status of the video?]

Simply, microinteractions include moments or actions for elements. Think about all the times you come in contact with a micro-interaction every day – some are probably so subtle and executed so well they aren’t noticed.

Daily Microinteractions can include things like:

  • Turning things off or on
  • Commenting on any digital platform
  • Changing a setting
  • Viewing a notification or message
  • Sliding down the “screen” on a mobile device to refresh content
  • Interacting with a data element, such as checking the weather
  • Accomplishing any single task
  • Connecting devices, such as those for multi-player games, or printing from your laptop
  • Sharing or liking a photo or video on a website

Each of these interactions lead users to a path of more human-centered design. The concept of making devices more human-like in their moments and interactions is a key to uptake and usability.

[Did you know when you click the dictation option the fans on your machine immediately go to the minimum to cut out background noise?]

Microinteractions are a massive part of nearly every digital project. You’ll probably find it difficult to hunt down a digital product that does not include some element, or moment, that a user needs to interact with.

The trick is to make these moments and interactions almost invisible and functional to the user is in the. Always think about how users work with and use devices.

There is so much more to delve into about microinteractions – however I do recommend you going and reading Dan’s book – if you have an interest, or haven’t delved to far into it. Do it is really worth it and moving forward digitally there will be more emphasis on these type of interactions.