Accounting for Emotion through Micro Interactions

It is the seemingly the little touches which transform an ordinary digital product into a spectacular one. It must be kept in mind that most users today are inclined towards judging a book by the cover, and accordingly designers are trying to come up with practical and catchy interfaces which can attract attention. But reeling in potential users is a different issue altogether. The concept of micro interactions has now emerged as a popular way of enhancing user experience from simply usable to absolutely delightful. According to Dan Saffer, “…The difference between a product you love and a product you tolerate is often the micro interactions you have with it.” Simply put, micro interactions are actions initiated by the users, which trigger a reaction from the device, and UX or user experience is the intuition, experience, emotion and connection felt by the user.

As a matter of fact, you start your day with one such interaction- the moment you turn off your alarm. Similarly, you engage in such countless interactions with all your digital devices throughout the day. Some are so insignificant, that you don’t even give them a second thought. Micro interactions are taking place all around you, from switching on a device, to skipping to your favourite song, from liking a post on social media to sending an snapchat to your friend. Today, micro interactions have found their way into mobile apps and ecommerce stores as well. The key to crafting an app, ecommerce or otherwise, that is usable, useful and beautiful lies in recognizing these micro interactions. For example, while designing apps, the target audience is always the main focus. Consequently, measures are being taken to develop more human centered designs. An important aspect of improving user experience is to make sure that the design speaks a language that the user understands and uses every day, and that includes conversational language. In other words, users are likely to prefer designs that feel more alive than a design which merely boasts of being “cool”.

If an app is addictive, chances are, the designers of the app are paying more attention to this “secret ingredient”. Not only are they using it, they’re doing so inconspicuously. The driving force behind a popular app is how well it connects to the users on an emotional level. That is where micro interactions come in. In a way, they serve to provoke the user to do or feel something; it could be something as simple as touching the screen, or something slightly more complex like connecting with a colleague. The next time you feel an urge when you see a notification from an app on your phone, remember, it was triggered by a simple micro interaction!

While creating micro interactions to enhance the user experience you provide, you must follow this conventional four part structure -

As the name suggests, it compels the user to initiate an action. Like, clicking on heart icons to mark something as favourite.

How the interaction responds. To the user, these rules are invisible; and he can only see them in the next stage.

The way the design is communicating the micro interaction to the user. Clicking on a heart icon would cause it to fill with colour, and a message like “Saved to favourites” would flash across the screen.

The duration of the micro interaction, and how it evolves. Evolution in this case refers to how the user will be able to visit content on the Favourites page.

The question, then arises, can micro interactions really be used to create more meaningful apps? The answer is yes. Micro interactions that are free of gimmicks and have survived repeated use can be incorporated into user designs for both mobile applications and online retail stores. Straightforward language. Vibrant colours. Clear typography. Simple and structured design. A hint of fun animation and harmony. A fine blend of each of these aspects when applied to any app, can captivate users. Users are constantly looking for an emotional factor in all that they use, especially in a world that is gradually losing the human touch.