Small things lead to big results. It may sound like common cliché but when you look deeper at things it makes sense. Actually, often such small things are irrevocably inconspicuous in spite of the fact that without them our life would be duller. Just consider the Facebook ‘Like’ feature. Can you do without them? Similarly, think of the tiny three dots you observe on chat boxes when someone types a message in response. Well, in digital apps world they are called microinteractions. They are now an integral part of any UX design.
These interactive but small elements make a big difference in design and naturally they are now subject to widespread interests from marketers as well as developers. Microinteractions actually refer to the small details of a user experience design and in what we call as ‘look and feel’ of an app, they make the ‘feel’ part.
Microinteraction Model And Key Design Principles
Microinteractions with four parts like Trigger, Rules, Feedback, and Loops or Modes create the small valuable addition that makes a user experience enjoyable. Can you think of Google search engine without the ‘Autocomplete’ search term function? Well, no, most of the times just typing the first few words of a search term proves enough as several related options automatically appear right there. You never gave this interaction any audible praise, right? But it always remains valuable without grabbing any special attention. That is precisely a signature attribute of microinteraction. Let us now understand how the four constituent parts function in a microinteraction.
- The microinteraction begins with Trigger which can be a device button or just a clickable icon or a conditional system trigger that gets into action automatically as per condition. Just look at the way a single touch on a name opens a chat box. This is an example of a trigger.
- How the microinteraction happens is determined by the Rules. From the sequence of events to guidelines of what should be done and what should not be done are determined by this part. It remains in the background. While you are waiting for your mail ID to open after going through the login process, a small graphic strip appeared and began to be filled with a textured color. In this microinteraction when and how such visual element will be shown is determined by the background Rules.
- Microinteractions inform the user about the interaction through Feedback. Actually Rules remain invisible but they are understood through Feedback. You do not know the rules that make update notification of your app appear on the home screen but when it appears you can figure its purpose and meaning. That is Feedback.
- Every microinteraction is subject to duration, a change over time and repetition. Loops and Modes determine these three aspects. How long a microinteraction would happen, how long and when it will be repeated or how it will transform, these are determined by Loops and modes. Facebook ‘Like’ remains same in purpose but it became more repetitive, robust and more responsive for the mobile users. These elements of change and repetition are determined by Loops and Modes.