Optimizing UX Through Microinteraction

June 5, 2015In User Interface Design3 Minutes

They say design is in the details, and nowhere does this adage hold true more than in the process of crafting an interface. Embarking on the massive undertaking of designing, building and delivering what is essentially, in todays digital world – a brand’s calling card – can be a daunting task. Even a site redesign can be a lengthy engagement requiring multiple stakeholders and levels of interaction through the project’s lifecycle. Even for the best of designers, developers and project managers – details can get lost  – but is it is within these details that the heart of the optimal user experience resides and it is an essential task to ensure they are not missed.

Connecting The Details

To create the best possible UX, a visitor to a site must be able to easily accomplish a desired task. It is here where the ‘details’ come into play, but what we don’t normally think of is how the details are connected. In order to complete the task, a user must engage in a series of interactions with their device and chosen site to help them get to the final result, for example – checking a bank balance, purchasing an item, or placing a reservation. These series of ‘interactions’, coined ‘microinteractions’ by author Dan Saffer, can range from a notification ping to liking content – a series of actions leading to another. In an increasingly technological landscape (speaking to the Internet of Things, etc), these interactive elements are what help to make the digital and automated experience more human.

A Step By Step Approach

In many ways, the idea of microinteraction helps to break down the heady task of great UX into manageable segments. Looking at the experience in an almost 3D fashion, getting inside and looking under the microscope to see what really needs to be implemented to make an experience great is seemingly the ideal way to ensure every touchpoint with a user is as it should be.

The Invisible Essential

Microinteractions serve essential functions, however, they tend to go unseen – acting as second nature for a user, and a best practice in UX design. As one would imagine, these interactions are an essential part of any type of interface – from ecommerce to blogs, apps and presentational sites.

Ultimately, these series of interactions must be driven by the user. If the interface is designed in an optimized, fluent fashion – the user will follow each call to action, whether a 1-2-3 step approach or single button and accomplish their task – blissfully unaware that each step is backed by reasoning and design through microinteraction.

Designer's computer desk workstation setup.

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