Micro UX a Dominant Design Trend For 2015

Every year we see changes in design trends. The last couple of years we have seen a number of trends riding a wave of popularity: flat design, emphasis on typography, material design, simpler interfaces, more scrolling, blurred backgrounds and animations between screen and elements.

Micro UX a Dominant Design Trend For 2015

In addition to those, Micro Interactions or Micro UX design is getting a great deal of attention. It is one of the most talked about design concepts of 2015. It is also something developers should be thinking about with their projects.

While design trends tend to change every year, one fact remains the same – users want to use design that is intuitive, aesthetically pleasing and functional. These days, users want something they can interact with too.

What is Micro UX?

Micro Interaction design is basically a process of connecting the digital world to humans. This connection helps phone users interact with their digital devices and products, such as smartphones, tablets, computers and mobile applications. There are many scenarios where micro interactions on the phone can be used in our daily life. Micro-interactions revolve around a single task such as pulling to refresh on the Twitter app.

Twitter iPad app - Pull to Refresh
Twitter iPad app – Pull to Refresh

Micro interaction design is about providing the user innovative design features that make a task easier and also create an engaging experience that is a pleasure to repeat again and again.

Micro-interactions can happen at home or in the workplace. At home, consider the ordinary task of turning off the lights with your phone before retiring to bed at night. In the living room, our phones can be used as a digital remote control, meaning we can change channels with the phone. Each time we perform one action we are performing a micro interaction. Some of these interactions provide feedback and are satisfying, while others provide no feedback and the user is left to wonder if their action registered with the device. Imagine liking something on Facebook and not having the thumbs up icon light up blue, it certainly would not be providing satisfying feedback in that case.

Facebook iPad app - Like
Facebook iPad app – Like

While micro interactions are each small, they can play an important role in improving the user experience. As the mobile application market is maturing by the day, users are now beginning to expect your user interface to include effective and satisfying micro interactions.

What makes micro interaction design more appealing?

The concept of micro interactions normally gets little attention, but ignoring this concept is a mistake. This is especially true for brands and businesses. The difference between products that customers love and those they tolerate are the micro-interactions they have with them. You can take what is forgotten and make it memorable and enjoyable, thereby increasing adoption and customer loyalty. If you want to improve user experience, then you should not ignore micro interaction design.

Encourage interaction

Aside from helping users interact with an app, micro UX has the potential to encourage users to interact, such as like or share content. This is because the app is interactive and users will want to use it to experience the micro interactions. An example of an app encouraging engagement through micro interactions is how the You Tube app auto fills results as a user starts to search.

You Tube iPad app - auto filling information
You Tube iPad app – auto filling information

System status

Micro interaction design can keep your users informed about what is going on. Users typically expect to receive feedback right away. The interface keeps the users enlightened about what is happening by playing a sound, measuring bitrate or displaying a graphic in the background. The same principle applies to file transfers. When users send files, they are able to view the progress, hence they don’t get bored. Even bad news like “message not delivered” can be delivered in a friendly manner.

Sometimes the simplest indicators are also the most effective as they relay information without being distractive from the applications content. The USA Today app has a simple way to let readers know the app is updating that creates minimal distraction yet fulfills its purpose of being informative. After the user clicks on the refresh button in the upper right of the iPad app the refresh symbol will rotate to let users know it is updating the application.

Readability

Micro interactions focus more on readability. It ensures that all of the elements in the app are easy to read at a glance. Programmers need to place more emphasis on function and scan-ability. Remember that you only have less than a second to convince a user to perform a desired task. Micro interaction can make this happen.

USA Today iPad app - refreshing
USA Today iPad app – refreshing

Highlight changes

Often an app will replace one button with another when it is necessary in order to save space or will add a button with new features in an update. At these times, you can display notifications to help the user see it. Adding animations is a great idea as it will attract users’ attention.

Usability

Usability is one of mobile app design’s best practices. If users have a difficult time using an app, they definitely will not desire it. An application’s usability has to be painless. Users do not want to figure out how the application works. Attention to micro interactions can help allow users to accomplish the task at hand in the shortest time possible and make an app more pleasurable to use.

Facebook iPad app - notify users of new features
Facebook iPad app – notify users of new features

Learnability

Humans can remember functions after a single use. Micro interaction puts more emphasis on familiarity and intuition. Interaction design must incorporate predictability and consistency. Most interaction designers use UI patterns to enhance learnability. The pattern is consistent so the user is familiar with it. When a product is learnable, it encourages customers to use that product, which enhances usability.

Feedback

Feedback is one of the fundamental micro interaction rules. It is at the core of any interaction. For this reason, it is wise to keep your products interesting, friendly and helpful, because every interaction is a conversation between the user and the product. Whether a simple beep or an elaborate animation, a product needs to communicate whether or not a task was accomplished. A classic example is Gmail. It has a feature that instantly shows that you have deleted an email and offers you the opportunity to easily undo the action if it was not intended.

Gmail iPad app - Moved to trash indicator
Gmail iPad app – Moved to trash indicator

Micro UX must be used wisely

There is definitely a growing focus in the mobile industry on micro interactions. Designers will therefore have to integrate to avoid being left behind. An ideal micro UX design works to ensure users get what they want out of the product. It also ensures that they are impressed by its simple, aesthetically pleasing and understandable details. Meanwhile it is important to avoid burning your users out with an overload of interaction. Designers must consider how an app’s interactions begin to add-up and look for subtle and unique ways to keep users engaged.

Final Thoughts

Micro interaction design is primarily designed to create an interesting as well as unique experience for the user. Micro UX design is something everyone developing products needs to be thinking about. People are coming to expect interactions in virtually every aspect of design and expect applications to be made up of simple, effective micro interactions.

Keep in mind that when you are designing with Micro UX, you need to consider how a user will interact with a specific function. You will also want to avoid letting small details overwhelm the overall product. Micro interactions can provide your users with much needed feedback and an understanding of the processes they are going through while using your application. You will find that as you begin integrating micro interactions into your project that your interface will be more approachable and enjoyable to use.

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