Microinteractions: What, Why & How to Boost User Engagement

What are Microinteractions?

Microinteractions are small, sometimes barely noticeable interactions you have with an element on a website. Their goal is to provide visual feedback, confirming action and reassuring you that something is happening. 

Breaking Them Down

Microinteractions can be broken down into four key components:

Trigger: This is the starting point, the spark that sets the interaction in motion. It can be:

  • User-initiated: A click, tap, hover, scroll, swipe, or any other intentional action you take.
  • System-initiated: An automatic response to a specific event, like finishing a task, receiving a notification, or encountering an error.

Rules: These define the "behind-the-scenes" logic, what happens after the trigger. They determine:

  • Conditions: What needs to be true for the interaction to happen (e.g., hovering over a specific element, completing a form).
  • Actions: What the system does in response (e.g., animate an element, play a sound, change text).

Feedback: This is the visible or audible response you receive, letting you know the interaction has been acknowledged and something is happening. It can be:

  • Visual: Animations, changes in appearance, colour, or size.
  • Auditory: Sounds, chimes, or music.
  • Haptic: Vibrations or other touch-based sensations (think phone notifications).

Loops and Modes: These dictate the interaction's behaviour over time. It could be:

  • Single-shot: The interaction happens once and ends (e.g., clicking a like button).
  • Continuous: The interaction persists as long as the trigger condition is met (e.g., progress bar while loading).
  • State-based: The interaction changes depending on the system's state (e.g., different button visuals depending on whether it's active or disabled).

Microinteraction Components

Why Do Microinteractions Matter?

The overarching goal of microinteractions is to boost engagement and/or convert. This is achieved through the following ways.

Enhanced Usability and Visibility

  • Provide feedback: Subtle animations and sounds confirm your actions, preventing confusion and frustration. Think of a satisfying "pop" when you submit a form, knowing it went through.
  • Guide users: Animations can subtly highlight clickable elements or suggest potential actions, making navigation more intuitive.
  • Simplify complex tasks: Breaking down steps into smaller, interactive phases with feedback makes them easier to follow and complete.

Building Trust

  • Personalise the experience: Microinteractions can be tailored to your brand voice and personality, making users feel like they're interacting with a familiar entity.
  • Show attention to detail: Well-crafted microinteractions convey that the product was designed with care and thoughtfulness, fostering trust and positive brand perception.
  • Acknowledge user actions: Feedback animations show the system recognises your input, creating a sense of connection and responsiveness.

Engagement

  • Add a touch of fun: Playful animations and sounds can turn otherwise mundane tasks into enjoyable experiences. Imagine a progress bar dancing instead of just filling up – adds a bit of fun!
  • Spark curiosity and exploration: Interactive elements encourage users to experiment and discover hidden features, deepening their engagement with the product.
  • Make memorable moments: Well-designed microinteractions create positive emotional associations with the product, making it stand out from the competition.

Boost Conversion and Business Goals

  • Guide users towards desired actions: Animated call-to-action buttons or progress bars can subtly nudge users towards completing tasks like purchases or sign-ups.
  • Improve user retention: A delightful and engaging experience encourages users to come back and spend more time with the product.
  • Differentiate your brand: Well-crafted microinteractions can set your product apart from the competition and attract new users.

Example

Microinteractions come in many different shapes and sizes. One example is how Tinder engages their users through swiping.

  • Trigger: User swipes left or right on cards. 
  • Rules: Left swipe indicates rejection, right indicates interest. 
  • Feedback: The card smoothly slides off-screen in the chosen direction, accompanied by subtle animations and sound effects.

tinder-swipe

How to Design Microinteractions?

Creating microinteractions is exciting for designers, but there are a few things to keep in mind before deploying them to your website or app:

  • Put yourself in the shoes of your users. Does this microinteraction add-value to their user journey?
  • Create functional microinteractions. You don’t want to distract the user, you want it to enhance their experience.
  • Focus on the fun-factor! If the user enjoys the experience, chances are they’ll want to come back for more.

Tools to Design Microinteractions

The good news is there are plenty of tools available for creating awesome microinteractions, catering to different skill levels and needs. Here are some popular options across various categories.

Design & Prototyping

  • Figma, Sketch, Adobe XD: These design tools offer built-in animation capabilities and prototyping features, allowing you to visualise and simulate microinteractions without writing code.
  • Framer, Flinto, Principle: Dedicated prototyping tools specifically designed for creating interactive prototypes, featuring powerful animation libraries and code-free approaches.

Development

  • CSS & Javascript: For web development, these core languages offer fine-grained control over animations and interactions. Libraries like Animate.css or GreenSock can simplify the process.
  • React & Flutter: Popular front-end frameworks with built-in animation libraries and components for easier microinteraction creation.
  • Native Android & iOS Development: Each platform has its own tools and APIs for creating animations and interactive elements.

Other Tools

  • Lottie: An animation file format used to create lightweight and scalable animations that can be easily integrated into various platforms and apps.
  • After Effects: Powerful animation software for creating complex and cinematic microinteractions, often used for marketing or video purposes.
  • Microinteraction libraries: Various pre-built libraries like Airbnb Lottie's react-native-microinteractions provide ready-to-use animations for common interactive elements.

Choosing the right tool depends on several factors:

  • Your skill level: Are you a designer, developer, or both?
  • Project requirements: Complexity of the interactions, target platform (web, mobile app, etc.).
  • Budget: Some tools are free, while others offer paid plans with advanced features.
  • Personal preference: Try out different tools and see what works best for your workflow.

Small Gestures, Big Impact: The Power of Microinteractions

You can now see why microinteractions are such a powerful tool in your website’s arsenal. 

Are you looking to go one step further? Discover our projects to see how microinteractions have benefited real businesses. Want to find out more? Check out our FAQs page. Ready to attract and engage your dream customers? Contact Wheatley Digital now!