Microinteractions and animations to improve UX

Torresburriel Estudio
5 min readMar 13, 2024

In digital product design, one of the most effective techniques for enhancing user experience is the implementation of microinteractions.

Although they are subtle and often imperceptibly conscious to the user, these small actions play a crucial role in creating a superior and more enjoyable experience.

Facebook Reactions, by Seth Eckert

Microinteractions are essentially specific interactions within a product that are activated to perform a certain function, thus contributing to a more intuitive and coherent workflow.

Typical examples include the act of swiping to refresh a page, expressing liking for content through a “like,” or adjusting a preference in the settings. User interface animations, such as the effect with which a menu appears on screen or how a card disappears with a gesture, are also part of these microinteractions.

Water effect transitions and getting out cards in book app, by Nikita Duhovny

Although users may not always be conscious of these microinteractions, the subliminal perception of them significantly contributes to a smoother, more intuitive, and satisfying user experience.

Microinteractions, by breno otavio

These details, no matter how small, have the power to transform a good user experience into an exceptional one, demonstrating that in design, significant impacts often come from the smallest and most thoughtful touches.

Definition and objectives of microinteractions

Microinteractions are small actions designed with a specific purpose that occur within a user interface. These subtle moments, though brief, are loaded with meaning and have the power to influence the overall user experience with a digital product.

A microinteraction can be as simple as the notification sound of a received message, the visual effect of a button being clicked, or the animation of an icon changing state. Despite their simplicity, these interactions are crucial for guiding users through their tasks efficiently and effectively, turning complex processes into smooth and understandable experiences.

Dribbble — icons microinteractions [gif], by Tony Pinkevych


The main goal of microinteractions is to enhance usability and user satisfaction when interacting with an interface. By focusing on details, microinteractions fulfill several important functions:

  • They provide immediate feedback on actions taken.
  • They help prevent user errors by clarifying the consequences of actions.
  • They add a touch of personality and fun to the user experience, which can foster a stronger emotional connection with the product.
Input Field Microinteraction Exploration, by LiWei Lim

Moreover, these microinteractions also make products more intuitive to use.

Types of effective microinteractions in user interfaces

There are several types of microinteractions in user interfaces, each aimed at enhancing specific aspects of the user experience. Among them, the following stand out:

  • Feedback microinteractions: provide visual, auditory, or tactile response to user actions, such as a button changing color when clicked or a gentle vibration upon completing an action, ensuring that the user receives immediate confirmation of their actions.
  • State microinteractions: inform the user about what is happening within the app or website, such as progress indicators, loading bars, or icons that change to reflect a new state, keeping the user informed and engaged.
  • Error prevention: help avoid user errors through visual signals or suggestions that appear before performing a critical action, such as validation alerts on forms or warnings before deleting an important file.
  • Subtle animations: enrich the visual experience and guide the user’s attention intuitively, like the smooth animation of elements appearing or disappearing from the screen, or the transition between views in an app.
  • Fluid transitions: facilitate the user’s movement through different parts of the app or website, offering a more coherent and pleasant experience when navigating between tasks or sections, such as animations for scrolling between screens.

Each of these types of microinteractions contributes to a richer and more satisfying user experience, not only improving usability and functionality but also adding a level of detail and care that can differentiate a product in today’s highly competitive market.

The psychology behind microinteractions

The psychology behind microinteractions is fascinating, as these small actions play a crucial role in how users perceive and feel about an interface.

At a fundamental level, microinteractions satisfy the human need for instant feedback, a psychological principle rooted in the theory of operant conditioning. When users interact with an interface and receive an immediate response, whether it be a subtle animation or a color change, a sense of gratification and control is created. This not only enhances the usability of the interface but also improves the user’s emotional experience, making the product more appealing.

Furthermore, microinteractions can be designed to evoke positive emotions and build an emotional relationship between the user and the product. For example, a fun animation or a pleasant sound effect upon completing a task can bring about a smile, transforming a mundane action into a moment of delight. Such positive emotions are associated with the product, improving the overall perception and fostering user loyalty.

Basic principles for designing effective microinteractions

To design effective microinteractions, it’s essential to focus on the clarity of purpose, ensuring that each action has a specific intention and is easily understandable to the user.

  • Clarity of purpose: each microinteraction should have a specific goal (to inform, delight, prevent errors, facilitate tasks), ensuring it is intuitive and relevant.
  • Simplicity: keep microinteractions simple and comprehensible to avoid overwhelming the user with unnecessary information or actions.
  • Harmonious integration: microinteractions should be cohesively integrated with the overall design of the interface, maintaining aesthetic and functional coherence.
  • Brand customization: tailor microinteractions to reflect the brand personality or product tone.

Reflecting on the overall impact of microinteractions and animations, it’s clear that their influence on UX goes beyond merely fulfilling functionality.

These small gestures, which as UX Designers we embed into the fabric of interfaces, act like an invisible thread that helps users follow the right path to achieve their goals within the digital product.



Torresburriel Estudio

User Experience & User Research agency focused on services and digital products. Proud member of @UXalliance