How micro-interactions can improve enterprise mobile app development

By Jonathan Crowl, on


Whether you’re playing an arcade game or turning on the stereo in your car, pushing a physical button causes you to receive tactile feedback that signals to you the action has been completed. You can feel the button move and hear the clicking sound of movement, or perhaps a light turns on when a specific sound plays.

Though users may not be extremely aware these actions are taking place on a daily basis, they will likely notice immediately when these functions don’t work properly. Herein lies the value of micro-interactions, which offer simple signals for communicating to customers that an action has taken place on a digital device.

If you don’t hear that familiar clicking sound, the button doesn’t light up or the button itself is jammed and won’t move, it’s easy to presume something is broken. That’s how most digital micro-interactions work. You often don’t even consciously recognize them, but your brain subconsciously associates them with the actions they represent.

For example, when you switch your phone to mute and don’t feel the buzz in your hands, you double-check to ensure the sound was actually turned off. That’s the beauty of micro-interactions, which are becoming a major focal point of UX design when creating mobile apps. Enterprise brands can use these small communications to create a more human-friendly enterprise app that elevates the experience for both enterprises and customers by creating a more approachable and appealing interface.

Defining the micro-interaction

According to TheNextWeb, a micro-interaction can be further dissected into a few different parts that flow from an initial user action. The first step, the “trigger,” is the action itself, which sets off the micro-interaction process. After that are the “rules,” which dictate what happens in that moment (essentially what the action is meant to accomplish). The “feedback” phase is the communication back from the device, which tells users that the desired action has taken place. After that, the user reaches the last step, “loops and modes,” in which the in-app experience moves forward after being augmented by the trigger.

These four distinctive components are important for developers to break down and understand. Once they do so, developers can more easily identify triggers for a possible interaction and then decide how such an interaction is best designed and deployed.

When these interactions should be used

The good thing about developing micro-interactions is that it’s hard to oversaturate an app with these actions. In fact, that’s one of the bigger challenges facing developers: They have to comb through the app with a microscope to identify every area of need.

Similarly, a micro-interaction can be used almost anywhere, but there are certain types of user interactions in which these features are more common, if not essential. These can range from basic actions, such as turning devices on and off, starting or stopping functions, changing volume, display and other basic settings or displaying mobile notifications.

Beyond these traditional triggers, developers have to consider which enterprise app-specific triggers require an interaction. Navigation and other forms of engagement should be paired with such an interaction if that additional communication can improve the user’s experience when using the app.

Polishing your experience

Once you’ve identified the points in your experience where micro-interactions can be helpful, a critical final step is to build interactions that are clear in their communication and helpful to users. According to Webdesigner Depot, these interactions should begin with a response that follows an action within a split second to ensure users aren’t confused by the activity. A status notification that appears on the screen along with the interaction’s response can also affirm what the activity is meant to communicate.

These interactions don’t need to be complicated. In fact, it’s better to make them as simple as possible while also being distinctive to the user. From physical vibrations to visual notifications, illuminated screens, sounds or other cues, the elements should only be as complicated as is necessary to aid user understanding.

Ultimately, user research and feedback can ensure most customers will intuitively understand these interactions when deployed live to the app. By following these best practices and combing through your user interface, your enterprise can provide a better experience throughout your mobile app — even in those small moments that often go unrecognized.

About The Author

Jonathan Crowl


Jonathan Crowl has served as a tech writer and reporter for a number of tech publications and corporations. Specializing in mobile technology and digital startups, he is based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Articles by Jonathan Crowl
See All Posts