Design

No microinteractions create a Bad User Experience!

What the hell are microinteractions? A big, fancy word? Yes. Also a vital part of making a product feel great. Microinteractions are what happens when you interact with something in an interface. Mouse over a link and the color changes? Microinteraction. Pull to refresh in your favorite social app? Yup, also a microinteraction.

Click to get the Source Files on the Rocksauce GitHub!

Hundreds of times a day, your goto websites or apps are serving you microinteractions. And each time, they are giving you dopamine rushes and engendering more brand loyalty.

Field Trip Time!

Click this link to open Facebook. Hopefully, for this exercise, you’ve got a Facebook account. If not, you can always look at news sites like TheVerge.com. Both use different microinteraction styles.

Whichever site you’re on, start mousing over stuff. See how it reacts? On The Verge, you’ll see the article titles highlight. On Facebook, though, these microinteractions are everywhere.

  • Interact with the nav icons at the top causes the background color to change and a tool-tip to appear
  • Hovering over almost any text changes the background color
  • Mousing over, then holding the mouse over a Like button animates in a little menu
  • Interact with those and you’ll see the option animate larger, as a tool tip pops out
  • Scroll the page, and when you get to content that hasn’t loaded yet, Facebook serves you a placeholder

Microinteractions are everywhere on this page! Each time you get one, you’re getting a little rush of satisfaction shot through your body. You feel accomplishment. Plus, you have certainty that you can interact with the item. In a sea of gray text & flat boxes, microinteractions make your options clearer.

But are microinteractions part of User Experience?

YES! User Experience is more than where things are on a page. Or defining that Page A leads to Page B. UX is is about the entire experience you have in a product.

Onboarding and tutorial flows have a major impact on your experience, right? Download an app that has crappy onboarding. You can’t delete that damn thing fast enough!

Download some how new app, like The Skimm. Right away, you see microinteractions happening. Animations as screens come in or between sections. Waving hands. Text boxes that grow when they come into view.
Are these microinteractions needed for the app to work? No. The Skimm, or other apps, can onboard you without it. But the goal is to make you want to continue signing up. That way you give your email address or telephone number. Filling out 5 screens of personal data is way more palatable if I’m delighted.

All of this is part of user experience. Microinteractions won’t make a terrible product successful. A pleasing user experience will help a good solution stand out and earn an audience.

MVP vs MDP

You know what an MVP is: Minimum Viable Product means the leanest features to get the job done.

What about MDP? Minimum DELIGHTFUL Product? Ah-ha! Create an MVP that does more than accomplishes a goal. Build a product that delights the audience as its helping the user. Microinteractions are pretty damn delightful!

Delightful products are just better. You can’t deny it. All things being equal, you’ll go with the solution that you like using. Product owners can build an MVP if they want to test an idea, but if they want to win? An MDP is the real MVP.

If people don’t want to use it, then you’ve failed. Lots of solutions can solve a problem. If no one uses it, then all you’ve created is a monument to wasted time & money.

Best places to use microinteractions

Wanna know where you can roll out microinteractions? Is everywhere too broad of an answer for ya? Really, there’s no limit to how you apply microinteraction states.

Easy microinteractions you should be using now?

  • All links on a website should have a hover effect – color, underline, weight or a combination
  • Loading animations & states can delight instead of leave people bored or waiting
  • All buttons should have multiple states – inactive, static, hover and pressed
  • Lazy-load content as a user scrolls through a product – saves bandwidth & looks cool
  • Page transitions that connect to each other, rather than a boring, flat page load
  • A subtle “pop” when a notification comes in

Other fun places?

  • How about when someone first loads your website? Tap a button to launch a pop-up.
  • A dark overlay can fade in while the app background blurs. Then the pop-up box can bounce into place.
  • Click the menu icon at the top left of a mobile site. Push the page content over to the right to make room, then snap it back quickly when closed.
  • Hover over a Text Field in a form to see the background color change, the font go bold and bright outline appear

Don’t go overboard with microinteraction design!

Remember to always tap into the key laws of UX and UI.

The Von Restorff Effect says that the different thing draws our attention. If animations are whizzing everywhere, nothing stands out. Use it to effect.

The Zeigarnik Effect is about how an unfinished task is more memorable. Make those apparent with animated progress bars or charts to focus attention.

The Law of Figure-Ground plus a great microinteraction means easy to spot buttons or CTAs.

I can go on forever, but you get it. Want someone to like your product enough to make it habitual? Make sure it’s something they can fall in love with.

Have fun!

Next Article: 5 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Design

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