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


  • Microinteractions can increase loading times by adding extra resources and coding. 
  • Unoptimized animations may cause lag, especially on lower-end devices, due to high CPU and memory usage. 
  • Well-designed microinteractions, like loading indicators and skeleton screens, improve perceived performance by providing visual feedback and early interaction. 
  • Using lazy loading for animations ensures they load only when needed. 
  • Regular performance testing across devices and balancing microinteractions to avoid user fatigue are essential. 
  • Employ performance best practices, such as code minification and image optimization, to maintain speed and functionality.

Detailed answer 

Microinteractions can indeed influence the loading and response time of a web application in several ways. 

They often require extra resources and coding, which can increase the overall weight of the website, resulting in longer loading times. During interactions, if animations are not optimized, they can cause jankiness or lag, particularly on lower-end devices or slower connections. This is because they consume CPU and memory resources. Additionally, complex microinteractions may require advanced libraries or frameworks, which can further slow down the loading speed. 

However, when designed and implemented correctly, microinteractions can also help mitigate the impact of slower loading and response times. For example, the use of loading indicators or progress bars creates a perception of a faster loading process. These elements provide visual feedback to users about what's happening, creating an impression of fluidity and speed, even if the actual loading time hasn't changed.

Similarly, skeleton screens (a version of the page where only layout structure is visible, but actual content is not loaded yet) allow users to interact with the application before it's fully loaded. This makes waiting for the application to load more bearable, considerably improving the user experience.

Using lazy loading to load animations related to specific user actions only when those actions are performed, rather than at the initial load, is a good practice.

Regularly test the performance of your web application, focusing on both load times and runtime performance. Test microinteractions across various devices and browsers to ensure they perform well universally.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the use of microinteractions should be balanced and justified. Overuse of microinteractions can lead to a slower website and user fatigue. Therefore, the most effective strategy is to optimize these interactions using performance best practices such as code minification, image optimization, and efficient use of libraries.

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

❓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.

  • How will this microinteraction affect the overall loading time of the web application?
  • Are the animations optimized for performance to prevent lag or jankiness?
  • Can I implement lazy loading to only load microinteractions when necessary?
  • Do the microinteractions provide valuable feedback to users during loading times?
  • Are there simpler alternatives to this microinteraction that would consume fewer resources?
  • How do these microinteractions perform on lower-end devices and slower connections?
  • Have I tested the microinteractions across various browsers and devices for consistent performance?
  • Are the advanced libraries or frameworks required for these microinteractions essential, or can they be avoided?
  • Is the overall user experience enhanced by these microinteractions without causing user fatigue or frustration?

⚠️ 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. 

  • Using overly complex or excessive animations that increase resource consumption and slow down loading times.
  • Failing to optimize animations for performance, leading to jankiness or lag, especially on lower-end devices.
  • Not implementing lazy loading, causing all microinteractions to load initially and unnecessarily increasing the initial load time.
  • Overlooking the importance of testing microinteractions across various devices and browsers, resulting in inconsistent performance.
  • Incorporating too many microinteractions, which can clutter the user experience, slow down the site, and lead to user fatigue.

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