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Diseño, comunicación y emprendimiento en tecnología. Por Juancabrito.

Microinteractions in Startups. A Lesson From Design.

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With entrepreneurship and design in mind, I often find certain links between them. This post is about “Microinteractions”, Dan Saffer’s book, my view on how certain ideas could be applied to startups.

First, the concept of microinteraction: often the products we like have a particular detail that makes us think that all the rest of it is worth. Maybe not that much, but the details make the difference indeed, and can make a product, or service, necessary or memorable.

An example could be Google. It not only works well, finding the most relevant resources (most of the time), but also the auto-complete can make certain repetitive or popular searches show us the correct results almost instantly.

In the Google search microinteraction, an unforgettable detail. Google wishes you happy birthday based on the information from your Google+ profile. ([littlebigdetails.com][])In the Google search microinteraction, an unforgettable detail. Google wishes you happy birthday based on the information from your Google+ profile. (littlebigdetails.com)

Saffer defines microintreractions as the functional and interactive details of a product, which are not the full functionality, but rather part of the functions or features of a product (although a product can be a single microinteraction too).

Among entrepreneurs sometimes there is great excitement for an idea, anxiety to see the returns, then the bug of serial entrepreneurship bites. Could it be that in such cases there is a risk of seing the forest and not the trees? In relation to the microinteractions it means forgeting the details.

A well made microinteraction can become a Signature Moment, a product differentiator. That’s what makes you prefer it over another one that does the same.

“The difference between a product you love and a product you tolerate is often the microinteractions you have with it”

Many businesses through time, for what I’ve seen about my country (Ecuador), neglect the details. My theory is that once the business is operating they forget or lose motivation, and any motivation for the product or the service becomes a motivation for money. In the end we have a bitter owner who does not know how to grow in revenue (which is what matters for him) and customers with poor experiences, unmotivated to return (or buy again).

But if entrepreneurs lose their motivation to develop good microinteractions in the product or service, it is hard to believe that someone else in the company will do. It is not impossible, a good team, committed to the value proposition, sharing the vision, can do an excellent job in creating these Signature Moments while the founders are focused on other tasks or other ventures.

In any case, the entrepreneur would have to take care of those moments when the client or user interacts with the product or service and constantly evaluate the experience being offered.

The book refers to the microinteractions in software or hardware products, but I think it applies even to interactions in one on one service.

“In competitive markets, microinteractions are even more important. When there is feature parity, is the experience using the product that increases adoption and brand loyalty.”

There is a microinteraction when you get a product at your door, another when you open the box, another when you walk into a place …

Design details create a pleasant experience, but the service too. In the image a seat in Singapore Airlines. ([lookslikegooddesign.com][])Design details create a pleasant experience, but the service too. In the image a seat in Singapore Airlines. (lookslikegooddesign.com)

I think the concept of microinteractions and the systematic way to define them by Saffer deserves discussion (I want to write more about this) among those who design. For examples of outstanding microinteractions in software I recommend Little Big Details (littlebigdetails.com) which is where the author takes nearly all the graphic examples.

Finally I recommend the book, especially for those developing products and designers in general. I also recommend it to entrepreneurs, but the technical explanations may be boring for those who only seek for concepts to improve their product or service.


Sources:

Saffer, Dan. “Microinteractions”. O’Reilly Media, 2013

Freelen, Murphy. “Smart Salon: Designing Microinteractions and the Power of Thinking Small”. Smart Design, Web. 25 July 2013.

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