How Can Micro-interactions Improve Customer Experience?

Orla McGrath
  • Micro-interactions enable a more human-like online shopping experience.
  • Used carefully, they make their time on your website more fun—and more fruitful.
  • And, importantly, they help prime your customers to be ready to commit to purchasing.

Micro-interactions are all of those little bits of functionality on your website that enrich the user experience, but are not your visitor’s primary goal.

Micro-interactions include things like:

  • searches
  • adding to wishlists
  • liking a product
  • sharing on social media
  • rating a product
  • looking at related products

Micro-interactions are important as they mimic the human experience element of retail that is lacking on your website. They are helping you to join the conversation inside the customer’s head. For example, your customer could be thinking things like:

  • Where can I find dresses? Hey, look here!
  • I think my friend Chloe would like this. Why don’t you share it on Facebook!
  • I can’t afford this now but maybe on payday. Make a wishlist and save it for later.
  • What shoes would look good with this? Look at these related products.

Five tips for designing micro-interactions

1. Keep the experience familiar and intuitive

Micro-interactions should deliver the experience your customers expect. Avoid anything gimmicky and remove unnecessary detail to communicate as quickly and effectively as possible. Icons should be concrete and familiar and make use of written labels where there is any room for ambiguity.

Sunglass Hut shows how this can be done effectively to enhance the shopping experience.

2. Beware of distracting your customer from pursuing their most important goals

Check your visual hierarchy and make sure that while Micro-interactions are seen and understood, they are not distracting your customer from their critical path to purchase. Balance is the key. The design should complement the overall look and feel but not take visual precedence.

This example from Nike shows how this can be done beautifully.

3. Make them fast

Micro-interactions need to work fast in order not to annoy the user or disrupt their path to purchase. And we’re talking split-second fast.

4. Make them simple

Micro-interactions should accomplish one task and one task only. Be mindful not to confuse or annoy your users by taking them on a complex journey away from what they are trying to accomplish.

5. Have fun

Last but not least, micro-interactions can add a vital emotional element to your site. As well as inform, they can surprise and delight, entertain, and enhance engagement. Micro-interactions make the experience of shopping online more rewarding for your user and in this sense they are vital to engendering brand loyalty and repeat purchase.

Look at this beautiful customisation widget from the luxury retailer Burberry; I can almost imagine owning my beautiful coat!

And there is another awesome added bonus of micro-interactions.

By encouraging customers to interact with your site in such no cost and low commitment ways, you are priming them psychologically to be ready to commit to purchasing when the time comes.

While an unencumbered path to purchase is critical to the success of your e-commerce business, Micro-interactions provide the intangible “human interaction” that will help you become your customers’ preferred brand and keep them coming back for more.