The Power of Micro Interactions in UI Design


“Micro-interactions are like the small gestures that a host uses to make guests feel welcome and appreciated.” — Dan Saffer, UI designer and author

Sometimes it is the little things that make the biggest impact. A fresh, heated towel in the bathroom, the subtle fragrance from pink lilies in a vase, or the volume of the music set to the perfect decibel to allow for conversation -- all create the perfect dinner experience.

Wouldn’t we like this level of experience in everything we interact with? For a species that spends an inordinate amount of time interacting with and through an interface, we have come to expect a certain standard. The bigger blocks do the heavy lifting by ensuring you find what you are looking for easily, but often it is the small, micro-interactions that show us that extra mile designers have gone through.

What are micro-interactions?

Micro-interactions are subtle animations, sounds, and visual cues that occur within an interface when users engage with it. They are small interactions between the user and the digital interface that serve a specific purpose at a point where the user receives feedback from the digital interface. These tiny interactions enhance user experience, drive engagement, and shape perceptions of products or services. These delightful, often unnoticed (and overlooked!) elements add that touch of personality to the interface making it stand out by creating a lasting impression in your mind.

Common micro-interactions

  •  Like button on social media: This micro-interaction lights up when clicked giving feedback to the user that their action has been recorded and tells others that this social media post is worth looking at.
  •   Progress Bars and Loading Spinners: Users can get easily frustrated when they don't see the progress after clicking on a button. Progress bars and Loading spinners turn this wait into a visual experience by showing that this process is ongoing.
  •  Hover effect: Commonly used in button animations where the user gets feedback immediately when the buttons change colour or change text to reveal an action when clicked.

Benefits of micro-interactions

Enhanced UI experience
Small interactions that create a positive effect can leave a lasting impression on the minds of users who constantly use digital interfaces. They play an important role in enhancing UI experience. For example, an intuitive infinite scroll reduces the extra step needed by the user making it an enjoyable and memorable experience for them. Carefully designed UI interactions improve the overall interface and give a personalised, more modern touch to the interface, in turn encouraging the users to interact with the product more.

Help navigate complex workflow
Micro-interactions help users navigate through complex workflows by signalling what actions are possible and how to perform them. Subtle animations like Tooltips or password suggestions make it easier for the user to complete the task at hand. An interesting way to get the user to cut through the clutter and focus on the information is to blur the background except for what the user needs to focus on.

Feedback from interface
Feedback is perhaps the most fundamental function of micro-interactions. When users perform an action, they expect some form of acknowledgement from the interface. By providing immediate feedback, through progress bars, or a change in colour of the button when clicked, micro-interactions reassure users that their actions have been recognised, reducing uncertainty and enhancing the overall sense of control.

Managing errors from user
Micro-interactions keep user errors to a minimum when interacting with a new interface and help solve issues quickly. These can be seen especially when users input data into a form. A micro-interaction can highlight the error in red, helping users to rectify the error immediately. This reduces users’ frustration resulting in a more seamless user experience.  

Creates user loyalty
Beyond their functional benefits, micro-interactions also contribute to the emotional aspect of user experience. By adding personality and charm to an interface, they foster a deeper connection between users and the product or brand. Many websites are now considering gamification micro-interactions for that boost of serotonin for users.

Keeping interactions enjoyable
Micro-interactions can be leveraged to gamify the user experience, turning mundane tasks into enjoyable interactions. Apps like Duolingo and Google assign points and levels to simple tasks elevating them for the user instantly. By incorporating elements of delight and surprise, micro-interactions encourage users to stay engaged and return to the interface time and again.

Reinforce identity through clutter
In addition to their impact on user experience, micro-interactions are significant from a branding perspective. Consistent use of micro-interactions reflects the brand's tone and values and can reinforce its identity by leaving a distinctive mark in a cluttered market. For example, Netflix’s boot-up sound, ‘Tudum’ is now synonymous with the brand differentiating it from its from competitors.

It is a tough tightrope to walk, but balancing the right and most effective micro-interactions into the overall design of the interface shows discretion and thoughtfulness on the part of the designer. Micro-interactions need to be simple, purposeful, and effective to the user all while reflecting the brand. Use them wisely and strike the right balance to influence users to come back to your brand time and again. As technology continues to evolve, mastering the art of micro-interactions will remain a key differentiator in creating truly exceptional digital experiences.


To get in touch for our services or any other communication requirement, please contact + 91 842 581 4016 / 17 or simply drop an email at

Take a minute to check out Subtext, our newsletter for communication professionals. Read now
Chat with us