User experience (UX) has become a critical focal point in the world of website development and design. Part of this involves understanding the aspects that contribute to an engaging user journey, microinteractions being one such element to help a website provide this. These subtle yet powerful interactive moments play a significant role in shaping the overall user experience on a website and help to keep people engaged and browsing for longer periods of time.

What Are Microinteractions?

Microinteractions are the small animations, feedback loops, and visual cues that respond to user actions, providing immediate and contextually relevant feedback. They may seem insignificant in the moment but are key building blocks to an overall dynamic and responsive user interface.

Examples of Microinteractions include:

  • The way a button changes colour when hovered over.
  • The slight vibration when a message is sent successfully.
  • A visual scrollbar when you move down a page.
  • Progress indicator bars on surveys or questionnaires.
  • A visible tick or mark in a contact form to indicate a customised response.

All of these, plus many more, help to give immediate feedback to users based on the action or actions they have taken, helping to foster a positive emotional response during the UX journey.

The Impact of Microinteractions on Website Design

It is important to think about the type of microinteractions you wish to include when looking to either design a new website or redevelop an existing one. If you do have a website already in place then you may have analytics data to help you understand pages and areas that may need work to improve UX and conversions, but even without this we can say with confidence that ensuring certain microinteractions are in place will aid UX site-wide.

Enhanced User Engagement

Microinteractions contribute to a more engaging user experience by adding a layer of interactivity to the website, creating a sense of responsiveness and active participation that help users feel more connected to the website.

Examples of microinteractions that aid user engagement include:

  • Subtle animation when clicking a button (such as a brief colour or size change).
  • Vibration when a button is pressed.
  • A visual scrollbar that moves when you scroll down a page.

Feedback and Guidance

Microinteractions can serve as feedback mechanisms, guiding users through the interface of a website and aiding intuition. They then inform users about the outcome of their actions, completing the process from research to submission.

Examples of microinteractions that give feedback to users include:

  • A loading spinner or a progress bar.
  • A pop up notification to confirm a form has been submitted.
  • Inline validation if there is a problem with a submission like a payment process. Red and green tend to be the most used colours for this type of microinteraction as they clearly indicate a problem or a successful submission.

Brand Identity

Microinteractions can also work for businesses to help express brand identity. These tend to be in the form of animation or sounds that only appear or sound when an action is undertaken specific to contacting or engaging with the business.

Examples of microinteractions that aid brand identity include:

  • The use of a chatbot to help users engage with a company – this may then lead to the option to speak with a representative if the problem cannot be resolved.
  • Gamified animation – such as a “spin the wheel” game to give users a freebie or money off code.
  • Personalised mascots that appear on the website relevant to the brand. Animation tends to be key with these to keep user engagement high.

Considerations for Businesses During the Web Development Process

Consistency

Ensure that microinteractions are consistent throughout the website, and blend well with the overall business branding. From button animations to loading indicators, maintaining a uniform design language enhances user experience.

Purposeful Design

Every microinteraction should have a clear reason for being on the website. Whether it’s to provide feedback, guide the user, or add a touch of personality, avoid incorporating microinteractions that serve no functional purpose.

Performance Optimisation

While microinteractions enhance user experience, it’s crucial to balance aesthetics with performance. Overloading a website with excessive animations can lead to slower loading times, which can then actually detract from user experience and also have a negative effect on how well search engines receive the website.

Accessibility

Consider accessibility. Ensure that all users can navigate and understand the interface, and consider alternative methods for interaction and feedback for users who may not be able to see or hear visual and auditory cues.

User Testing

Undertake thorough user testing before launching your website to gauge how different audiences work with your planned microinteractions. The devil is in the detail, so comprehensive user feedback in a testing environment can reveal valuable insights into the effectiveness of these elements.

Microinteractions might be small in size, but mighty in impact. They contribute to the overall user experience by making interactions more intuitive, engaging, and memorable. Incorporating thoughtful and purposeful microinteractions is a key part of an overall strategy for creating websites that not only meet user expectations but also leave a positive and lasting impression.