We’re always on the lookout for new concepts and ideas. When we came across Dan Saffer’s new book “Microinteractions” we were pretty excited. We’ve always had a great amount of respect for the importance of the fine details throughout our design practice and Saffer’s new book really hits home.
So what is a “microinteraction,” anyway? According to Saffer, it’s a product use case boiled down to a single moment, focused on a single task. Unlocking your smartphone is a microinteraction; so is the chiming sound that plays when you boot up Windows or OS X. But microinteractions aren’t restricted to computers. “They are everywhere: in the devices we carry, the appliances in our house, even embedded in the environments we live and work in,” Saffer writes. “Most appliances and some apps are built entirely around one microinteraction.”
You need to build human-compatible things for people.
These atomic design moments, Saffer argues, are what whole products, and even whole systems and “wicked problems,” ultimately boil down to. If microinteractions are delightful, humane, and effective, then their success accretes and trickles up into the broader user experience in general. “Most good designers have been doing this for decades, especially some of the great industrial designers like the Eameses and Dieter Rams,” Saffer says. “The on/off switch is often the first microinteraction people encounter with a product.”
At times, technology is challenging and complex for even the savviest of users. We find that the ability to focus on the humanity of our solutions helps break down a lot of that stress and allow those same users to accomplish overall complex tasks thought a series of simple and intuitive interactions. It’s not always easy to dive into those fine details when you are trying to solve a larger problem, but ignoring them or missing them all together is a recipe for disaster.