How can designers and developers effectively collaborate to ensure microinteraction designs are implementable?


Effective collaboration between designers and developers is crucial to ensure that microinteraction designs are implementable. One approach is using the "skeleton interaction concept" and "interaction guide" as described by Kyo Kim, Head of Product Design at GlossGenius. This method involves using playable and clickable prototypes, similar to refined wireframes, which allow team members to directly interact with and understand the design. By introducing prototypes early in meetings, the team can address any misunderstandings and refine designs before the final development phase. Additionally, creating detailed interaction guides that specify the position, rotation, scale, and timing of elements helps clarify design intentions and ensures that all team members are aligned, facilitating smoother development and more accurate implementation. 

Detailed answer

Microinteractions can be indeed a big challenge to implement right, especially when designers and developers are working in silos.

In his article, Kyo Kim, Head of Product Design at GlossGenius, describes the traditional process for incorporating a microinteraction that begins when:

  1. The designer creates the visual components and animations needed to bring the concept to life.
  2. The designer then showcases the completed design and its foundational ideas to the rest of the team.

However, common challenges often arise during this process. 

Unclear communication of the idea

Often, when designers use static images or verbal descriptions to explain dynamic animations, it leads to confusion and misinterpretation. Different interpretations can create unnecessary communication gaps and tension within the team.

Lack of immediate design validation 

Designers without the ability to prototype rely on developers to realize their visions, which means they can't be sure the animation works as intended until a prototype is developed. This often leads to miscommunication, doubts about feasibility, and potential delays.

Misalignment on technical feasibility

Designers may propose detailed animations involving complex scripts or custom effects, but developers may push back due to time constraints or technical limitations. This can result in frustrating discussions if designers lack an understanding of the technical constraints developers face.

To cut down on the back-and-forth and keep everyone on the same page, Kyo introduces the "skeleton interaction concept" and "interaction guide." This approach adapts the traditional UX design communication methods, which are often static and segmented, to the dynamic nature of UI animations. Just like rough wireframes are used to discuss and refine UX designs, a similar preliminary, simplified model could be beneficial for animations. This method allows for earlier revisions and fine-tuning, ensuring all team members are aligned before the final development phase.

Skeleton interaction concept


A skeleton interaction concept elevates a traditional wireframe by transforming it into a playable and clickable prototype. This advanced prototype can be presented in meetings, allowing team members to directly interact with and understand the design, rather than relying on imagination alone. The designer can use this interactive prototype or a static storyboard to clearly demonstrate the visual and animation elements, ensuring everyone accurately grasps the concept.

This level of clarity in presentation results in precise and valuable feedback. Additionally, it provides the product management and development teams with essential insights, improving their internal communication and project timeline estimations.

Interaction guide

Interaction guide showing a custom progress bar and carousel page controller for navigating steps in a mobile interface.


After the team agrees on the concept, the designer puts together an interaction guide. It’s similar to a style guide but specifically focuses on the position, rotation, scale, and timing of elements and is rich with details.

The interaction guide clarifies the specifics of the animation movements and measurements, helping everyone on the project see exactly how things will work. This clarity is crucial as it allows us to fine-tune the design through effective collaboration. It also encourages designers to be more deliberate and detailed in their animation and microinteraction work, ensuring a polished final product.

Prototyping skills for designers

In the dynamic duo of product development, the product designer takes the lead, while the developer plays a supportive role. This setup puts a significant amount of responsibility on the shoulders of the product designer. They need to not only articulate their ideas with clarity but also demonstrate their viability through proof of concept.

Hence, product designers should be able to create their own animation prototypes. When a designer can bring a prototype to a meeting, it streamlines the discussion, making it both clearer and more efficient. This leads to better communication and more productive sessions overall.

Actionable steps for better collaboration between designers and developers

  1. Schedule a kickoff meeting with the design and development teams to align on project goals, discuss the role of microinteractions, and establish communication protocols.
  2. Set up a shared prototyping tool and create interactive mockups of the proposed microinteractions, clearly demonstrating their behavior and user flow.
  3. Conduct regular design reviews with the development team to gather feedback on the feasibility and technical constraints of the proposed microinteractions, and iterate on the designs accordingly.
  4. Organize a workshop or training session for designers and developers to share knowledge on design principles, technical considerations, and best practices for implementing microinteractions.
  5. Develop comprehensive documentation that includes design specifications, animation details, and expected behavior for each microinteraction, and make it easily accessible to both teams through a shared repository or design system.
  6. Implement a user testing plan to gather feedback on the microinteractions throughout the development process, and incorporate necessary adjustments based on user insights.
  7. Celebrate successes and learn from challenges together as a team, fostering a collaborative and respectful work environment that encourages continuous improvement and innovation in microinteraction design and implementation.

Related reading: How do microinteractions impact the loading and response time of a web application?

❓Questions designers should ask themselves

By asking the right questions, designers can question their decisions, find areas to improve, make sure nothing is overlooked, and reduce mistakes, leading to better, more thoughtful designs.

  • Are my designs realistically achievable within the project timeline and budget?
  • Have I clearly defined the purpose and expected outcome of each microinteraction?
  • Am I familiar with the technical constraints and capabilities of the platform we’re developing for?
  • Have I provided all necessary design specifications, like animations, transitions, and states?
  • Am I using tools and formats that are compatible with the developers’ tools and workflows?
  • How can I proactively address potential misunderstandings or miscommunications before they arise?
  • How can we establish a consistent feedback loop for iterating on these designs?
  • Am I effectively documenting changes to designs to keep everyone updated and aligned?
  • Am I prepared to prioritize which microinteractions are essential and which could be adjusted if technical constraints arise?
  • How can I ensure that the design and development teams maintain a shared vision throughout the project?

⚠️ Common mistakes to avoid

Learning from your mistakes is important, but many problems can indeed be predicted and avoided. Based on Cieden's collective expertise, we're sharing the most common ones. 

  • Irregular and unclear communication that can lead to misunderstandings and misalignment of project goals and details.
  • Lack of a shared understanding of project objectives, user needs, and technical constraints, resulting in designs that are hard to implement.
  • Inadequate documentation of design specifications, such as animations, transitions, and states, which can leave developers guessing and potentially lead to incorrect implementations.
  • Designing without regard for the technical limitations and capabilities of the development platform, leading to unfeasible designs.
  • Avoidance of creating prototypes, leading to a lack of early testing and feedback, which is crucial for catching issues before the development phase.
  • Inflexibility to changes based on technical feedback or user testing findings, resulting in less optimal user experiences.
  • Poor planning and time management in integrating design and development phases, leading to rushed decisions and compromises in both design quality and code integrity.
  • Neglecting developer involvement in early stages, leading to a lack of feasibility insights and technical foresight in design proposals.
  • Failing to establish a feedback loop for ongoing feedback and iteration during the project, preventing the team from adapting to new insights and improving the product continuously.

🛠️ Useful tools 

These tools will make your job easier and more effective.

If you’re familiar with coding:

  1. Mobile: Xcode, Android studio
  2. Mobile or Web: Framer
  3. Web: CSS animation

If you design an interaction involving a screen-like push and a module:

  1. Invision
  2. Marbel

If you want to develop more detailed interactions:

  1. Principle
  2. Adobe CC
  3. Origami Studio 
  4. Pixet

If you want to develop detailed interactions + animation:

After Effects

🤝 Credits

Our content combines the knowledge of Cieden’s designers with insights from industry influencers. Big thanks to all the influencers for sharing awesome content! 

Bringing Delightful Micro-Interaction and UI Animation to Life Through Developer–Designer Collaborations by Kyo Kim

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