“The difference between a product you love and a product you tolerate is often the micro interactions you have with it.”
- Dan Saffer, Interaction Designer & Author
If an app is addictive, chances are the designers of the app are paying attention to how well it connects to the users on an emotional level. That is where micro interactions come in. From the phone’s alarm that wakes you in the morning to the notifications about new messages to liking your friends’ posts on Social Media — our interactions with digital devices are full of small moments that define our relationships with products and services.
When they’re well designed, micro interactions enhance our experience with the design, without being overly noticeable. If you’re reading this on Medium, scroll below and try Clapping this post (if you don’t like it at the end, you can always unclap it!), you’ve just engaged in a micro-interaction without even noticing it. And it is in moments like these where customers interact with a little animation or well-times insight, that they find true delight, because they are unexpected and helpful.
As Dan Saffer’s describes in his book, “Microinteractions”, these tiny details typically serve the following functions:
- Communicate feedback of an action.
- Accomplish a task.
- Enhance the result of direct manipulation.
- Help users visualize the results of their actions and prevent errors.
While micro-interactions delight users, micro-copy is an essential part of the design process because it explains the product and orients the user to its purpose. Well-crafted micro copy allows the user to feel as if they are having a conversation with the interface throughout the journey: whether it’s in form of button labels, form fields, instructional text, tips, error screens or empty states.
Just like the micro-interactions, when done well, you barely notice how micro copy provides context, guides you, influences your actions and responds to your interactions. Microcopy also has a huge role to play in building trust. Users feel insecure or suspicious while making a transaction, especially when brands are unknown, ask for a lot of personal information and credit card even for free trials. This can lead to the abandonment of a purchase or being skeptical about continuing to use a product. Effective microcopy can provide users the necessary transparency, informing them why it is being asked and how it will be used.
Finally, adding the right emotion to microcopy creates a better connection with users. Based on the target demographic, their unmet needs, behavior and the problem the brand is solving, users fall in love with brands that make them laugh and feel better about themselves. If your brand follows a style and tone, make sure that your microcopy represents the image of your brand and not the 1980s instruction manual from Japan!!
What’s the downside of not diving into the details and crafting your micro interactions perfectly? It can be pretty damaging to your users’ experience who will respond in kind with incomplete forms, lack of action, complaints, or disinterest. All of us have experienced moments when we forgot the password and the authentication process on the site was unintuitive and frustrating. Or when the system threw an error and we were punished with a dreaded “fatal warning” message, instead of less intrusive language with a softer tone.
Many of us designers focus a lot of our attention on core functions and outline micro-interactions at the far end of a design process. We get worked up with all the components- the fonts, the colors, the content, the flows but are often laid back when it comes to copy and interactions. However, it’s the micro details on the smallest elements that make the product, so sweat the small stuff and transform your products from being simply usable to absolutely delightful!