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The importance of micro-interactions within your digital product

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May 20, 2021
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Photo by Hugo Ruiz on Unsplash.

Search the internet for the meaning of micro-interaction, and you will find many results that use the word interaction right in the definition. Annoying, right? Weren't we all taught in elementary school to avoid defining a word with the word itself?

A micro-interaction is a small, seemingly inconsequential way that a human and computer act upon one another. Frequently taken for granted, micro-interactions are subtle and deeply ingrained in an application or software.  

But micro-interactions are a vital part of the user experience. They are used to perform tasks that advance the customer journey, submit information, help manage a digital environment, deliver instruction and feedback to the user, and for error prevention.

Micro-interactions include everything from celebratory pops of confetti on your smartphone screen to functional components like slide bars, toggles, in-app alerts, and so much more.

There are countless examples. Say you're signing up for a social media platform that requires your date of birth, and you enter the information in the following format: xx/xx/xx. But the platform requires all four digits of your birth year, not just the last two, so you receive an error message alerting you of the correct format. A couple of digits later, you're back on track and finishing the signup form.

When dealing with digital forms, micro-interaction focus states allow for user interactions without the affordance of a cursor. In this context, the focus state highlights a particular portion of the form, like a text entry field for your first name, allowing the user to operate the interface through means other than a mouse, such as a keyboard or verbal command.

Another example of a micro-interaction is password feedback. Account security is a serious concern these days, so many applications have specific password requirements, like the inclusion of at least one symbol, number, or capitalized letter. A micro-interaction in this instance could be a notification assessing the quality of your password, with descriptions like weak, moderate, or strong.

Basically, any interaction a human has with an application represents a micro-interaction. And our human-centered computing focus at 3Digit Creative allows us to craft all those little user experiences to maximize the functionality and enjoyment of your product or service. 

3Digit is a small agile product design shop based outside of Baltimore, MD. We focus on designing user-centered digital products for mobile and web applications, as well as physical prototyping for early-stage startups and entrepreneurs. Our approach relies on research and rapid prototyping to help businesses turn their ideas into reality.