The importance of micro-interactions for UX


2 minute read // Insights

Ready for impact

Excellent micro-interactions can have a huge impact on your user experience. Micro-interaction is “trigger-feedback” pairs. This may sound generic, that’s because many of our daily interactions with computer systems fall in this large category of micro-interactions.

So, let’s break down this definition a bit more. Micro-interactions need to be triggered. They can be triggered by a user interacting with a button or performing some gestural or voice command. Or micro-interactions can be triggered by the system. This happens when the system meets a certain set of predetermined conditions.

After the micro-interaction has been triggered, it then provides some sort of feedback to the user. This means that micro-interactions are local, and – as the name implies – pretty small changes to a user interface.

The importance

Despite being small, micro-interactions are important because they smooth the user’s path throughout the design, making each step easier. For example, micro-interactions can display system status or provide error prevention.

An example for displaying system status is; if a user with an iPhone is near the device and says, ‘Hey Siri’, the device responds with an animation of an audio waveform. In this case, the micro-interaction is triggered with the user’s command of ‘Hey Siri’. The feedback is the visual audio waveform which tells the user that the system is listening and waiting for further information.

In addition to showing system status, designers can also use micro-interactions to help users prevent errors. For example, let’s say we’re completing a form to reset our password.

In the field ‘new password’ we type ‘Orange225’ and in the next field, ‘retype new password’ we type ‘Lemon225’. Now the ‘retype new password’ field turns red, with a message underneath telling us that the two passwords do not match.

This is a micro-interaction triggered by the system and provides feedback to the user to fix the problem, before clicking the submit button.

The final words

In conclusion, the purpose of micro-interactions is to provide feedback to keep users informed and engaged. Without proper micro-interactions, your user experience is bound to suffer. So, when it comes to designing micro-interactions, make sure they have a purpose, but don’t hesitate to let them embody your brand.

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