UX Lisbon: Microinteractions

by May 17, 2013

In his Microinteractions: Design with Details presentation at UX Lisbon Dan Saffer discussed how small interaction details matter and can be designed effectively. Here's my notes from his talk.

  • The case of patron x: someone's phone was going off during a symphony performance.
  • Micro-interactions are single use cases that do one thing and do it well. They can exist on their own or be part of a larger feature set.
  • The difference between a product you love and one you don't boils down to the micro-interactions.
  • Design isn't just about solving wicked problems. Instead of focusing on really big issues, change the world from the bottom-up with little details.
  • Contained product moments: logging in, setting alarms, search, add a contact, rate something, etc. These little design details often get overlooked.
  • Micro-interactions are everywhere: in our apps, in our walls, on our computers. Some apps and appliances only consist of a single interaction.
  • If you care about user experience, you have to care about micro-interactions. If the micro-interactions are bad, the value of major interactions won't matter.
  • Experience design is paying attention to the big picture as well as the details.
  • Micro-interactions work really well on small devices and can tie an ecosystem of devices together.

Designing Micro-Interactions

  • Trigger, rules, feedback, loops & modes. these are all dials you can turn to adjust micro-interactions
  • Manual Triggers (buttons knobs, dials, swipes) are done deliberately by user. What is the proper control to give a user? Examples: slide to unlock, tilt head up to turn Google Glass on.
  • System triggers what happens when a set of conditions is met and an action triggers on its own. Examples: turn on Nest thermostat as you com near it, detect phone tilting and offer to turn rotation lock on.
  • Bring the data forward so people don't have to go diving into a micro-interaction to get it.
  • Rules are what happens when a micro-interaction is triggered. They determine what can or can't be done.
  • Don't start from zero. There's always some information you can use to set smart defaults.
  • Feedback: rules are invisible so the only way we understand them is through feedback.
  • Use the overlooked: make use of elements that are already present instead of adding more elements.
  • Speak human: feedback is for people so make sure you are talking to them instead of to computers.
  • Use long loops: what happens when people trigger many micro-interactions over of time. Change things as the system learns.
  • Look for micro-interactions in your product experiences. Look at the triggers, rules, feedback, and loops -what can use to optimize it.
  • Or look for the details everywhere. Treat everything as a micro-interaction. Features can be several micro-intercations woven together.
  • Think small and go change the world.