Hardware, Software & the Internet of Things
June 23–25, 2015 • San Francisco, CA

Designing microinteractions for connected devices

Dan Saffer (Saffervescence Inc.)
11:00am–12:30pm Tuesday, 06/23/2015
Tutorial, Design
Location: Fire House
Average rating: ****.
(4.24, 17 ratings)

Prerequisite Knowledge


Materials or downloads needed in advance



Connected devices are composed of microinteractions: From the first time a user turns the device on, to syncing it to a network, to having it provide moments of delight throughout its life. Designing these small moments can turn a clunky proof-of-concept into a product people love to use and own.

We’ll start with an introduction to microinteractions and step through the micro interactions model, which sets the structure for the day. First, we’ll focus on triggers, the manual controls and system conditions that start all microinteractions. We’ll do exercises on triggers, one of which is around the principle of Bring the Data Forward. Next, we’ll focus on Rules, the “interaction” part of microinteractions. We’ll deconstruct the rules of an appliance, then do additional exercises around Preventing Human Error and Don’t Start From Zero — adapting the microinteraction to what’s known about the user and/or the environment.

The third part of microinteractions: Feedback. We’ll discuss animation, sound, and the messages that feedback conveys, then do exercises, including ones on Using the Overlooked, where we take various pieces of UI to see how they could be reused for feedback, and another on Speaking Human: how can we take utilitarian copy and make it more humane.

Loops and Modes are the last part of microinteractions. We’ll talk about when to use modes, and then look at loops. We’ll do an exercise around long loops, how to extend your microinteraction into the future.

We’ll end the workshop by discussing how to incorporate microinteractions into the design and overall product process, including how to sell them to clients and internal stakeholders.

Photo of Dan Saffer

Dan Saffer

Saffervescence Inc.

The son of a plumber and a psychologist, Dan feels the interaction design he does is a little bit of both. Since 1995, he’s designed everything from websites to consumer electronics to robots. He feels that design isn’t only about problem solving, but also about creating a better, more humane, future.

Dan’s insightful, thoughtful approach to design has been captured in the four books he’s written: Microinteractions, Designing for Interaction, Designing Gestural Interfaces, and Designing Devices.