Micro-interactions have become increasingly important in a world with a dizzying number of digital platforms, and an ocean of content. While micro-interactions used to be thought of as a cool feature in the early days of digital design, in the hyper-competitive digital space of today they’ve become a crucial element to the overall user experience.

Because of the sense of value users perceive from micro-interactions, they not only boost engagement, but also inspire positive feelings towards your brand, and ultimately, influence users’ actions.

This article will discuss the basics of micro-interactions and how you can utilize them to enhance your UX design.

What Are Micro-Interactions?

In digital design, micro-interactions are found in most user engagements with products. It occurs when you hover your mouse over text and it changes color to indicate it can be clicked. It’s when animation comes out showing the progress of your upload. It’s even the message that pops up to let you know you’ve input the wrong password.

These little visual cues and other subtle indicators are micro-interactions. And while they may not be readily noticed by users, that’s actually, often, when they’re properly executed. Micro-interactions, however subtle they may be, hold the general design scheme together – providing bits of information that allow users to navigate the interface and perform basic functions.

How Micro-Interactions Work

Micro-interactions have four basic elements: trigger, rules, feedback, and loops/modes. These elements help organize the operational cycle of these design elements:


These are what initiate the micro-interaction process—a tap of a button, or a click of a mouse, for example. It can also be initiated by the system when certain qualifications are met, like when you get sound notifications when you receive a message.

These triggers work with a set of established action rules that prescribe what can and can’t be done.


These basically determine what happens once a micro-interaction is triggered. So when you swipe up on Tinder, for example, the rules state that you’ve “Super liked” someone. But the rules also state that still can’t message them until they’ve liked you back.


As the name implies, it lets users know what’s going on. Anything a user sees, hears, or even feels when a micro-interaction is happening is feedback. For example, if you set your phone to vibrate, that short vibration is feedback.


These basically define the nature of the interaction—does it flash once, repeat? What happens over time? For example, the loops can be the number of times a user can input the wrong password, while the mode would be that an account would be temporarily blocked after five password errors.

When and How to Use Micro-Interactions

1. Page Animation

When you talk about page animation, it could be the creative transition between pages or just a cool scrolling progress icon. These types of micro-interactions can give users better insight into the relationship between previous and current pages. It also makes even the process of skimming more engaging.

2. Swiping

Similarly, you can also take advantage of how innate swiping has become by incorporating smooth transitions to your content when users swipe. This way, you can add some entertainment value to your content (without users needing to get on a dating app).

3. Animated Input Fields

You probably haven’t met anyone that enjoys filling out forms. But animating fields can at least make the mundane task more engaging, and even helpful.

4. Status Animation

Similarly, in this age of dwindling attention spans and on-demand entertainment, nobody likes to wait. But by using animations for things like download/upload status, you can show users’ progress, while adding more fun to an otherwise boring function.

You can even use it to add to your branding.

5. Notifications

When it comes to notifications, it’s better if you can give users options. For example, there are users who prefer less intrusive notifications. Others, meanwhile, wouldn’t mind Facebook Messenger’s chat bubble popping up even while they’re watching a YouTube video.

Facebook and Instagram have taken this to another level, providing users with a hit of dopamine every time someone likes their posts. This builds habits, making users look forward to getting notifications.

6. Pull-Down Menu

It’s become a staple design in smartphones’ operating systems, and it’s because it’s incredibly user-friendly. Just by pulling down from the top of your screen, you get access to all your notifications and your basic settings. Ease of navigation is one of the most important functions of micro-interactions, and pull-down menus enable just that.

7. Call-to-Action Buttons

Your CTAs are there for a reason – and that’s because you want users to click on them. Adding animation to your CTA buttons can help stimulate users’ behavior. And at the very least, make them curious about what might happen.

8. Anchor Text Animation

Animating anchor text is a great way to incorporate creative branding into simple functions like going back to your homepage or even just indicating that something can be clicked.

9. Tutorials

Micro-interactions are also a great way to educate users about how to use your product. Simple animations or even graphics that point out basic functions can go a long way towards better UX by making your product easy to use, and unveiling cool hidden functions.


These small details all add value to the overall experience of your users. A small feature like a non-intrusive notification or a cool status animation can make users feel that the company cares about them, and leads to feelings of goodwill towards the brand. And once that sort of relationship is built, you can then influence their actions to align with your own goals.

With everything going digital, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out from the crowd – but these subtle micro-interactions can help you achieve just that.


Protests have long been an important part of American history, from the civil rights movement in the 1960s to the Women’s March. The images and symbols of these demonstrations are rightly seared into the national memory. Now, they’re also available in typeface form.

[Photo: Wiki Commons]

[Image: courtesy Tré Seals]

Graphic designer Tré Seals runs a font foundry called Vocal Type devoted to transforming the letterforms that can be seen in archival photos of protests into fonts that designers today can use. So far, he’s made fonts out of the iconic “I am a man” signs from the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike, signage from the 1963 March on Washington, and images from a 1957 protest in Buenos Aires where Argentinian woman demanded the right to vote, among many others.

Now, Seals is working on a new typeface family inspired by the group of hand-drawn infographics by the black sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois.

Du Bois famously designed the infographics for the Paris World’s Fair of 1900. They visualized data about black Americans’ economic and social progress since the end of slavery by documenting the numbers of teachers, increasing land ownership, and rural versus urban populations. More broadly, the visualizations depicted how black people were being held back by institutionalized racism. So far, Seals has developed three separate fonts using the letters in Du Bois’s data visualizations and is planning to create different weights for each variety.

[Photo: Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images]

The foundry’s work is not just historical; for Seals, it’s also political. He first decided to take on the project after reading an essay about the dearth of black people in design. “That made me start wondering how can I increase diversity in design,” Seals says. “I can’t increase demographics. I love typography, and that’s the basis for every great design project. Why don’t I base typefaces on the history of minority cultures?”

[Photo: Library of Congress/Wiki Commons]

It’s not an easy task, though—many protest posters are drawn by hand. For the type inspired by the March on Washington, which is named “Bayard” after one of King’s closest counselors and one of the primary leaders of the movement, Seals said that he was faced with decisions about how to streamline handwriting into a contemporary digital typeface.

“In the sign that Bayard references, there’s an S on [two] sides and they are completely different,” he says. “It’s always hard figuring out how many liberties I should take in terms of making the typeface more legible…essentially my process is trying to find a balance between that and trying to figure out how to tell that story.”

For some of his fonts, that means that Seals creates a historical version that maintains many of the quirks of the original protest posters, as well as a cleaned-up version that hammers out some of the inconsistencies.

So far, Seals’s typefaces have been used in magazines, posters, and on tote bags. His biggest claim to font fame is that Netflix used his font from the ’68 protect, named Martin, to market the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?

“I was scrolling through Netflix. I was like, wait, I know that S,” he says. “I was so shocked.”