Designing Micro-interactions to Create Seamless User Experiences

Explore how animation and motion impact the UX and learn how to use micro-interactions for seamless user experiences

Designing Micro-interactions to Create Seamless User Experiences

Users interact with micro-interactions daily without being aware of them. Animation and motion can enhance the user experience if designed with restraint. The use of motion is often appropriate as a form of subtle feedback for micro-interactions to attract the user's attention and guide them through the interface.


The concept of micro-interaction

Micro-interactions refer to actions occurring when a user interacts with an interface, providing feedback, conveying system status, or assisting users in preventing errors. When designing micro-interactions we should consider four factors:

  • Triggers initiate micro-interactions. A trigger can be user-initiated or system-initiated. Micro-interactions are triggered by something the user does, such as tapping a button, or by a change in the system’s state.
  • Once a micro-interaction is triggered, rules determine what will happen.
  • The response is specific feedback communicated through a visual or audible change in the user interface.
  • Loops and modes control micro-interactions. When conditions change, how does a micro-interaction respond?
A scheme indicating the flow of a micro-interaction.

Micro-interactions involve various components, but not all of them are considered part of a micro-interaction. For instance, static elements always present on the screen are not micro-interactions since they do not have a specific trigger. Likewise, multi-step actions do not qualify as micro-interactions.

You can find an informative table outlining what can and cannot be classified as micro-interactions on the Nielsen Norman Group website. An example of a micro-interaction is a scrollbar that is triggered by user action and provides feedback on the actual location in the application or page. Similarly, a notification is a system-triggered micro-interaction that informs the user of an incoming message. On the other side, a video player is not a micro-interaction itself, but the abilities to control the video playback and adjust the volume within the video player can be considered as such.

Notification and video player controls micro-interactions.

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