Microinteractions: they’re not something from Star Wars. When I wrote a few weeks ago about the top web design trends for 2017, I didn’t mention them – but maybe should have done.
As users become ever more sophisticated in the way they use the web, so the sites they access must match those expectations. In particular, gone are the days when a good mobile site was merely a traditional webpage that looked OK on a smaller screen.
In other words, designers have turned to additional functionality to satisfy demanding users who are increasingly not just viewing but interacting with online content whilst on the go. The aim is now to create a unique, fully functional web experience on mobile devices; microinteractions are one way of achieving that.
What are Microinteractions?
So what are microinteractions, anyway? As the name suggests, in some ways they are small things – little tricks and flourishes that may seem like tiny details at first blush. And yet, as we all know, the devil is often in those details – and getting them right can make your website stand very far out from the pack.
For example: if a user taps your website’s menu button and a smooth animation expands a list of their options, that’s a microinteraction. If a user can pull downwards to refresh a page, that’s a microinteraction; and if a user can turn off a particular function of your website with a single swipe, that, too, is a microinteraction.
What all these actions have in common is that they are easy to perform, focus on a single data-point or task, and provide subtle pleasure to the user. A microinteraction provides a function but also some feedback: perhaps haptic (that is, sensory – a vibration, for example), but certainly visual.
This enhances the user’s experience – and therefore the time they spend on your site and the regularity with which they’ll return – because it renders it as two-way and convenient. The Facebook ‘like’ function, for example, makes acknowledging content you have appreciated easy – but the animation that occurs when a user clicks that little thumb also gives the impression of your having done something substantive.
Those subtle events that occur around an action, then, encourage repeat use – and even foster brand loyalty. When using their smartphone, today’s users want to enjoy surfing the web. Microinteractions are one way of making sure that your website is one of those which give your customers and clients not just a practical tool but also a little pleasure, too.
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