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How To Improve UX Using Micro-Interactions

Tim Davidson
10 min read

Micro-interactions are a great way to improve the user experience (UX) of your website or app. They can help guide users through a task, provide feedback, and even add a bit of fun and personality.

When used effectively, these small and functional animations can make your UX more intuitive, efficient, and enjoyable.

In this article, we will explain what these are, give you some examples, and of course, show you how you can use them to improve your website.

What Are Micro-Interactions

Micro-interactions are small, focused interactions that help users accomplish a specific task. They typically take place within a larger app or website and involve some kind of feedback from the system in response to the user's action.

They can be used for a variety of purposes, such as providing confirmation that an action has been carried out, guiding the user through a complex task, or helping the user troubleshoot an issue.

While they may seem like small details, they can play a big role in making an app or website more user-friendly and enjoyable to use. When done well, they can make a positive impact on the overall user experience.

success message modal

Here are some examples:

  • A confirmation message that appears after a successful transaction
  • Animated icons that provide a visual feedback when an action is carried out
  • A progress bar that shows the status of a task in real-time
  • A tooltip that appears when the user hovers over an element

These delightful engagement creating events can be found all around us, and they are becoming increasingly important as we move towards a more digital world. With so much of our lives taking place online, it's important to make sure that the websites and apps we use are as user-friendly as possible.

Micro-interactions are everywhere in the digital world, from the "like" button on Facebook to the progress bar that shows how much of a video you've watched. They are a crucial part of the user experience and can make or break a product.

1. The "Like" Button on Facebook

thumbs up icon

The "like" button on Facebook is perhaps the most famous micro-interaction in the world. It's a simple button that allows users to show their approval (or disapproval) of a post with a single click.

This micro-interaction is so successful because it is simple and easy to use. It doesn't require any explanation, and it is instantly gratifying. When you see that someone has liked your post, you feel good, and when you like someone else's post, you make them feel good.

The Facebook "like" button is a perfect example of how a micro-interaction can improve the user experience by making it more enjoyable and satisfying.

2. The Progress Bar on YouTube

Youtube Progress bar

Another great example of a micro-interaction is the progress bar on YouTube. This simple feature shows you how much of a video you've watched and how much time is left.

This micro-interaction is useful because it allows users to keep track of their progress and see how much time they have left. It also serves as a motivation tool, urging users to keep watching.

The progress bar on YouTube is a perfect example of how a micro-interaction can improve the user experience by providing valuable information and encouraging users to take action.

3. The "Add to Cart" Button on Amazon

amazon buy button

The "add to cart" button on Amazon is another great example of a micro-interaction. This button allows users to add items to their shopping cart with a single click.

This micro-interaction is so successful because it is simple and easy to use. It doesn't require any explanation, and it is instantly gratifying. When you see that an item has been added to your cart, you feel good, and when you add an item to someone else's cart, you make them feel good.

The "add to cart" button on Amazon is a perfect example of how a micro-interaction can improve the customer experience by making it more enjoyable and satisfying.

Micro-interactions are a crucial part of the user experience and can make or break a product. In this article, we've seen some examples, and how they can be used to improve the user experience.

So next time you're designing a product or a website, make sure to include some of these small and focused interactions.

Some Concrete Steps You Can Take

By now, you might already have some ideas on how you can implement micro-interactions and just why top user experience design firms use and recommend them. But enough theory. Let's dive into some concrete steps you can take in order to improve your UX.

Use micro-interactions to guide users through a task

Micro-interactions can be used to help users complete a task by providing clear instructions and visual feedback.

For example, when a user is filling out a form, you can use them to highlight the required fields and show an error message if a field is not filled out correctly.

error message micro interaction

It can essentially help guide them through the process by providing feedback on what information is required and how it should be formatted. It might contain tooltips that provide additional information about a particular element on a page

Micro-interactions can also be used to provide visual cues that help users understand what actions they need to take.

For example, a button may change color or animation when it is hovered over to indicate that it is clickable.

different button states

They can help make complex tasks easier to complete by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable steps. A progress bar that shows the user how far they have progressed through a task is a good example.

By respecting the rules of micro-interactions, you can help guide users through a task and improve their overall experience.

Add personality

If you are a UX designer, micro-interactions are a great way for you to add personality and life to your design. By carefully crafting these small moments, you can create an emotional and personal connection with your users that goes beyond the functional.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when designing or implementing them:

  • Make them unobtrusive and relevant to the task at hand.
  • Use animation and sound sparingly, and only when they enhance the experience.
  • Pay attention to the details! Small things can make a big difference.
  • Test, test, test! Try out different versions to see what works best.

Use Micro-Interactions To Improve Usability

Micro-interactions can also be used to improve the usability of your UX.

For example, if you have a complex form, you can use them to break it up into smaller, more manageable parts. This makes it much easier for users to complete the form and reduces the risk of them becoming frustrated and abandoning it altogether.

We will illustrate this usability feature through an example - creating a form.

clean commit contact submission web form

When designing micro-interactions for forms, or in general, before you want to implement them, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the interaction is relevant to the user's task. It should add value and not be superfluous.
  • Keep the interaction simple and easy to understand. Users should be able to figure out what it does without having to think too hard about it.
  • Ensure that the interaction works consistently across different browsers and devices. Test it thoroughly before deploying it live.
  • Make sure the micro-interaction doesn't interfere with the overall form experience. It should complement the form, not distract from it.

With these guidelines in mind, let's look at a few great examples of micro-interactions that can improve forms. Note that some, if not all of these, can be used in other aspects of your website

1. Animated progress indicators

animated loading bar still image

Progress indicators implemented in a browser are a great way to show users how far they've come in a form and how much more there is to do. They can be animated to add a bit of visual interest and keep user engagement on a high level..

2. Form field validation

form field validation rejection and success

Validation is an important part of any form, but it can be easy for users to miss errors if they're not pointed out clearly. Micro-interactions can be used to highlight errors in real-time, making it easier for users to correct them.

3. Dynamic form fields

dynamic form fields

Dynamic form fields are a great way to improve the usability of long or complex forms. By only displaying the fields that are relevant to the user's input, you can reduce clutter and make it easier for users to find the information they need.

4. Confirmation messages

confirmation message

It's always nice to get confirmation that your input has been received and is being processed. A simple micro-interaction can be used to display a message after a form has been submitted, letting users know that their data is safe.

5. Auto-saving progress

auto-saving progress message

No one likes losing their progress in a form, especially if it's a long one. A micro-interaction can be used to save the user's progress automatically, so they can pick up where they left off even if they need to leave the form for a while.

These are just a few examples of how micro-interactions can be used to improve forms. By thinking creatively about how users interact with forms, you can come up with all kinds of ways to make the experience better.

1. Use Micro-Interactions to Test and Refine Your UX

Micro-interactions can also be used to test and refine your UX. For example, you can use them to A/B test different design elements or user flows. This allows you to see what works well and what needs improvement.

There are many different ways to use them in your UX testing. One way is to use them as part of a usability test. This involves testing how easy it is for users to complete a task using your interface.

For example, you might ask users to try and find a specific piece of information on your website. If they can't find it easily, then you know that you need to improve your website's navigation.

Another way to use them is to A/B test different designs. This involves showing two different versions of your interface to two different groups of users. You can then see which version performs better. This is a great way to fine-tune your design and make sure that it's as user-friendly as possible.

Things To Avoid When Improving Your UX Through Micro-Interactions

Micro-interactions are a vital part of any digital product, and when done well, they can enhance the user experience and make your product more engaging. However, there are a few common mistakes that can occur when designing them, which can ultimately lead to a poor user experience.

Here are four mistakes to avoid when designing micro-interactions:

1. Not Defining the Purpose of the Micro-interaction

One of the most common mistakes when designing micro-interactions is not clearly defining the purpose of the interaction. What are you trying to achieve with this micro-interaction? What goal does it help the user accomplish?

Without a clear purpose, they can quickly become confusing and frustrating for users.

2. Making the Micro-interaction Too Complex

Another common mistake is overcomplexity. Micro-interactions should be designed to be simple and easy to understand. Making them needlessly complex can quickly become overwhelming and confusing for users.

3. Not Testing the Micro-interaction

Before launching a micro-interaction, it's important to test it with actual users. This will help ensure that the interaction is clear and easy to use. It's also a good idea to test different versions of the micro-interaction to see which one works best for users.

4. Not Iterating on the Micro-interaction

Once a micro-interaction is launched, it's important to continue to iterate on it based on user feedback. This will help ensure that the interaction remains effective and useful for users.

Conclusion

Micro-interactions are a powerful tool that can be used to improve the UX of your website or app. When used effectively, they can make your UX more intuitive, efficient, and enjoyable.

Tim Davidson
Tim Davidson
Tim is the face of the company. When you want to kick off a new project, or an update on your existing project, Tim is your man. With a background in project management, Tim specialises in managing the chaos around the company.

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