Which design elements should usually have some kind of microinteraction?


Design elements that typically benefit from microinteractions include progress indicators, buttons, input fields, toggles and switches, pull-to-refresh actions, notifications, “typing…” indicators, tooltips, navigation menus and dropdowns, social media reactions, swipe animations, and modal windows. 

These microinteractions can enhance user engagement by providing immediate feedback, improving usability by guiding users and reducing errors, fostering an emotional connection through delightful interactions.

Detailed answer 

Certain design elements indeed benefit greatly from adding microinteractions. These elements typically are:

Progress indicators

They let users know that the system is still working by responding to their actions. Such a microinteraction can show a specific or undetermined wait time and may include components like linear or circular progress indicators. Also, a progress bar could show a series of dots moving across it to indicate the progress. When a task is complete, a checkmark animation or a progress bar filling up entirely can provide a sense of accomplishment.


Microinteractions can provide immediate feedback when buttons are clicked, giving a greater sense of control for users. A simple hover effect (change in color or elevation) can confirm interactivity. For example, a button might subtly enlarge or change color when the mouse hovers over it, indicating it is clickable. After a click, a loading animation (like a spinning circle) reassures the user that their action is being processed. 

Input fields

Microinteractions can help users understand if they entered information correctly, saving the time required to correct errors in the later stages. To give immediate feedback on input errors, you can use a shaking animation or a color change for an invalid entry. When a user focuses on a field, a subtle animation like a glowing outline or a change in color can provide a clear indication. For instance, the outline of a text field could change color from grey to blue when it is active.

Toggles and switches 

These controls can benefit greatly from microinteractions as they give users a clear understanding of adjustments they make within an app or website. Moving toggles provide visual feedback on whether a feature has been activated or not, offering a clear indication of the current state.

Pull-to-refresh and swipe actions 

Common in mobile applications, microinteractions can make these actions more intuitive and satisfying for users.


A gentle bounce animation or a slide-in effect can draw attention to a new notification without being jarring. For example, a notification badge on an app icon could bounce to indicate a new message. Use color to subtly differentiate between different types of notifications (e.g., blue for informational, yellow for warnings).

“Typing…” indicator 

Seeing the flashing “typing…” in a chat or social media app keeps users engaged, eagerly anticipating the upcoming message.

Tooltips and hover interactions 

A tooltip that fades in smoothly when hovering over an element is less intrusive than a sudden pop-up. For instance, a tooltip could appear next to a question mark icon when the user hovers over it, providing additional information. Consider using subtle animations like a slight zoom or a change in background color to highlight the hovered element.

You can also consider other areas like social media reactions, swipe animations, navigation menus and dropdowns, and modal windows—each can be significantly improved with well-designed microinteractions. 

Related reading: What challenges can come up with microinteractions and how can I solve them?

When deciding which design elements should incorporate microinteractions, consider the following key factors:

User engagement: Microinteractions should enhance user engagement by providing meaningful feedback and encouraging interaction with the interface. Assume that users expect immediate and clear responses to their actions.

Usability enhancement: Microinteractions should improve the overall usability of the application by guiding users, reducing cognitive load, and preventing errors. Assume that users appreciate subtle cues that help them navigate and understand the interface.

Emotional connection: Microinteractions can create a positive emotional connection with users by adding delight and personality to the interface. Assume that users enjoy thoughtful and well-executed animations that make their experience more enjoyable.

Brand consistency: Microinteractions should align with the brand's identity and tone, reinforcing the overall design language. Assume that consistency in microinteractions across the application contributes to a cohesive and professional user experience.

Pro tips 

  1. Conduct user testing sessions to gather feedback on the effectiveness and desirability of the microinteractions. Observe how users interact with the interface and gather their opinions through surveys or interviews. 
  2. Iterate on the microinteractions based on user feedback and insights. Refine the animations, timings, and triggers to strike the right balance between subtlety and impact.
  3. Continuously monitor and analyze user engagement metrics and feedback after launching the microinteractions. Gather data on how users interact with the enhanced elements and make data-driven decisions for further improvements.

❓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.

  • Is the microinteraction adding value or merely decorative?
  • What is the user's goal, and how can a microinteraction enhance or simplify achieving it?
  • Will the microinteraction make the interface more intuitive or reduce the cognitive load for the user? 
  • Will adding a microinteraction increase user engagement? Will it make the experience more enjoyable without causing distractions? 
  • Does the microinteraction fit within the context of the application or website?
  • Does it aid in navigation or guidance?
  • Does the microinteraction help clarify the functionality of a UI element?
  • Will the microinteraction affect the performance or loading time of the app or website?

🤝 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! 

Micro-Interaction: An Indispensable Element of UI Design by Abron

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