How the Micro-Moment is Changing UX Design

Consumers interact with brands thousands of times every day, from commenting on social media posts to online shopping and beyond. It’s a constantly evolving marketplace that leaves brands fighting for customer attention and engagement. UX design was born from this need to capture and keep users’ attention.

Optimizing UX design can create stronger customer loyalty and increased conversions. However, designers fall short when they focus only on big picture features and functionality. The key to optimizing the user experience is found in the smallest consumer actions: micro-moments.

Defining the Micro-Moment

Customers’ interactions with a brand are made up of thousands of micro-moments; tiny sub-actions and details that keep a customer engaged and guide them through a designed navigation process**.** Brian Barrus, President of Studio-Element, explains it like this, “There are a few objectives that I think these micro-moments help to achieve. One of them is to try to eliminate the friction between all those steps that a user goes through in interacting with software, whether it’s an app or a website.”

Customers often appear to make purchasing decisions at the drop of a hat. Abandoned online shopping carts should be seen as a sign that a micro-moment or two needs to be optimized in a business’ conversion process. This can come down to something as simple as a customer not being able to easily find a button or not knowing where to look on their credit card to find the CVV number.

These micro-moments, also called micro-interactions or micro-mini-interactions, are driving customer behavior, signaling a necessary change in the way designers approach the user experience. The trouble is trying to track down just what it was that made the customers abandon their carts.

Analytics are Key to Optimizing Micro-Moments

UX design is built upon the ability to interpret and respond to consumer behavior. With today’s analytics, designers no longer create a product that looks nice, check off the box, and move on to the next project. Instead, they have the chance, and consumer-driven obligation, to really fine tune experiences around even the smallest design element.

Think about something as simple as which size button works best to navigate users to the next page of a website — small button or big button? This is a micro-moment that in the past would have been overlooked because the size of the button doesn’t seem to be as important as just having a nice-looking, working button in the first place. However, modern analytics and processes like consumer testing and rapid prototyping give designers the ability to study in depth what size button customers prefer. Like all micro-moments, the size of a button seems like a tiny change, but multiple tiny changes can make big differences for consumers.

UX designers looking to optimize their user experience and increase conversions can easily start focusing on micro-moments in several ways:

  1. Pay attention to trends. Don’t confine yourself to your own design lab as you search for new ideas. Look at how other designers are using micro-moments to their advantage. Pay attention to the trends you are seeing in the world around you because a lot of these trends become the new standard rule for user interaction.
  2. Put the customer in control. Brands, marketers and designers often think of UX in terms of getting the user to complete the actions they want them to complete. However, it’s important to remember that to the customer, the experience is a positive one when they can easily complete the actions that they want to take. For instance, new technologies like eye tracking show that users are much more likely to read an article to completion if they can easily scan through it first and see how long it is rather than it being broken up into multiple pages. Not sure what actions users want available to them? Ask. Interviewing consumers about their experiences can yield helpful insights into micro-behaviors.
  3. Don’t underestimate the entertainment factor. It’s easy to downplay entertainment as a lesser value in UX design, but entertaining users is a valid goal designers should pursue. Entertained customers stay interested and engaged. Try using small, subtle animations — micro-animations if you will — that you could include on a roll-over or hover effect or an entertaining something that happens as a user enters a new page.
  4. Give the user feedback. When users complete an action using your software, it’s important to give them validating feedback. This feedback lets the user know, “Yes, you completed the action you were to trying to do.” One example of successful feedback in micro-moments is the Facebook “Like” button. When users click the Like button, it does more than simply change colors or have a check mark in a box. UX designers at Facebook programmed the Like button with subtle animation. After a user clicks the button, the icon grows and pops up. It’s a simple action that is simultaneously entertaining and affirming, and it keeps users coming back for more. Even negative feedback, like error messages, can be made into positive experiences.
  5. Adopt a mobile first mentality. Advancing technology has pushed the customer experience into the mobile universe. Brian Solis, a digital analyst, author, and futurist says that because the mobile universe is built on micro-moments, designers need to embrace this mobile-first mentality. “We need UX designers to be champions of change, to reimagine the customer journey for a mobile world, and be part of a cross-functional effort,” Solis says. Designers can keep micro-moments in focus by framing the user experience on every platform with the same approach they use for mobile.

Micro-moments help achieve business goals.

Though they are seemingly small things, micro-moments can create a big business boost. Mike Jones, managing partner of Resound Creative, a brand and experience design team, sees this in his work every day. Recently, his team researched the micro-moments on a client’s e-commerce site. A small change, cutting an online registration form from 22 fields to nine, gave the client a 24 percent increase in online registrations. “It’s amazing what benefits such simple changes can make,” Jones says.

Likewise, Peter Sena, founder of Digital Surgeons, attributes a focus on micro-moments to achieving a 47 percent decrease in bounce rate, a 25 percent increase in mobile page views, and an increase of 17 percent average order value for client Camelbak.

Responding to and perfecting micro-moments is one of the best ways for a digital product to stand out in today’s marketplace. Think about the first iPhone. Compared to its competitor, Blackberry, the iPhone features really weren’t all that different. Both phones performed the same basic functions — making phone calls and browsing the web. What was revolutionary about the iPhone was its customer experience. By refining the tiny details of the user interface, Apple was able to present a product that customers felt was intuitive. Using an iPhone was easy, enjoyable and entertaining. That is the power of optimizing micro-moments.

Changing the way UX designers think.

As designers work to optimize user experience through improving micro-moments, the biggest challenge isn’t as technical as it is mental. Micro-moments present an opportunity for the UX design industry to change the way it approaches design. The things designers often think of as minor details are in reality making or breaking products. It’s not always so much about the big picture features and functionality of a product. Really, the small, tiny details can be just as revolutionary.