How to Improve App User Experience with Microinteractions

03 Sep 2021

Don’t underestimate microinteractions. They may be subtle, but they’re a crucial part of all UI interactions when it comes to designing an app.


In this article, we’re discussing what microinteractions are, how they work, why they’re an integral part of mobile UI design, and where to implement them in your mobile app.



What are microinteractions?


Microinteractions are small interface reactions to a particular in-app action performed by the user. They create an illusory experience; On/off sliders don’t move the way physical switches do, but they can appear so through small animations. For example, take a look at the below interaction from our app Noted:



This is a good example of microinteraction because it serves three primary functions:


  • To communicate status and provide instant feedback

  • To reward the user for performing an action

  • To make UX engaging without distracting them from the main task

Above all, the best microinteractions help users visualise how the app’s UI interactions work, whilst delighting and giving them the sense of being in control.



How do microinteractions work?


To break it down, microinteractions work in four parts:


  1. Triggers initiate a microinteraction. They can be either initiated by the user or the software which detects certain qualifications are met thus initiating an action.

  2. Rules determine what happens once a microinteraction is triggered.

  3. Feedback teaches the user to work with the system. This can be delivered in the form of a sound, a visual cue, vibration, amongst other microinteractions.

  4. Loops/Modes determine the length of the microinteraction, whether the interaction repeats or if it changes over time.


Why do microinteractions matter?


If microinteractions are only minor design elements, why do we care about them so much? Many app developers and designers are still asking this question, not realising that ignoring microinteractions may cost them and their clients a lot.


The answer is simple: Motion for emotion. We humans are hardwired to seek instant gratification, and microinteractions appeal directly to your users’ natural desire for acknowledgement.


Not to mention that the devil is in the details. From a UX standpoint, small details like an animated icon or an upload progress bar are what differentiate an ordinary app design from an extraordinary one – and we know which one we prefer.



When should you use microinteractions in app design?


Before you integrate a microinteraction in a mobile app design, make sure it’s aligned to your target audience and the overall feel of your app. Then, you can consider the following contexts when microinteractions can be used to communicate with the user and create a better user experience:


  1. Swipe: Compared to tapping, the swipe gesture is not only more interactive but smoother too. What more, it’s super addictive – it’s no coincidence that many successful apps these days are based around endless swiping.


  2. Data input: We all know how uninspiring the process of setting up passwords and creating user accounts is. Thankfully, this can be alleviated by adding microinteractions at the time of data input to keep users engaged and help accomplish the goal.


  3. System status: It’s essential to let the user know exactly what is going on in the app; otherwise they may get annoyed or, worse, delete the app. Thanks to microinteractions, you can keep your users informed at all times, from how long it will take the process to complete to whether or not their action has been successful.


  4. Calls to action: CTAs instill a feeling of achievement. The best way to make your users interact with them is by adding microinteractions to make them more engaging in order to entice the users’ interest.


  5. Control interfaces: Control interfaces (such as buttons) are everywhere. They play a big role in helping users navigate through your app, so you must pay attention to every aspect of them, including their colour, shape, texture, placement, and how they react when a user taps on them to make the UX more enjoyable.



  6. Move Your App Users with Microinteractions


    Mobile app design is a nuanced process. If you need help building a powerful illusory UX out of pixels and motion, get in touch via hello@digitalworkroom.co.uk or connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram now.