Think small and go change the world – Microinteractions and UX

I recently joined the London UX bookclub in an attempt to get into the habit of reading more design books and this month’s book was ‘Microinteractions’ by Dan Saffer, the director of interaction design practice at Smart Design.

I have to admit that on first impression, I though this is the kind of book that researchers will  think it’s beneath them, designers will perhaps (begrudgingly) flick over some pages and developers will simply snigger and roll their eyes. Well, I was wrong.

This is a great book for anyone who works or has an interest in designing creating ‘things’.  (The word ‘design’ might still trigger a mild eye roll from the developers).The book explains how we can design interactions that will turn a new user experience to a cherished product, and will help you create a Signature moment (such as Facebook’s “Like” button or Microsoft’s “Start” button).

Don’t be put off by the format of it being a book (and don’t assume you will get the same user experience if you just check the website online). It is short, full of real-world examples of what to do (and what to avoid!) and very easy to read (you will find yourself nodding in agreement while reading it).

If you ever had a moment where you interacted with a produce (or interface) and felt ‘wow! Somebody thought about how I will use this and thought about me and about my needs’ then you will DEFINITELY enjoy this book.

Some of the key messages from the book in terms of the principles of creating microinteractions:

Don’t start from zero: Think of what you know about the user, the context of use, the platform, preferred access modalities, behavioural data? Use this, to design an experience that can adapt to each user’s needs and preferences.

Bring the data forward: What information is inside the microinteraction that you can pull forward so that users can see it at a glance? Why do I need to go inside my weather app to see what the temperature is?

Speak Human: Use the words/language your users use for feedback.

Use Long Loops: Think of  what it your product will be like when a user comes back tomorrow? What is it like when the user comes back for the 100th time? Can your product adapt and if so, how?

And some examples of microinteractions that made me smile:

Foursquare gives the user a special birthday message


Imdb displays film quotes on their error pages.


Paypal: When the PayPal app is in iOS app switch mode, activity and account details are blurred.


Google Hangouts: While in a group conversation, it automatically mutes your microphone if it hears you typing while other people are talking.



Amazon.com  The passport and book photo change depending on your location (on Amazon’s Kindle product page)



Nike +: Plays a cheering and chanting audio file when people ‘like’ on Facebook. (Who doesn’t like an Olympic Champion when they finish their run?)




These examples are taken from the Little Big Details website , a curated collection of the finer details of design (and my own favourite procrastination website).

Buy the Microinteractions book, get inspired from the Little Big Details website, think small and go change the world.

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