What is a Microsession?
In layman terms, it is a session that lasts for no more than a few seconds. Simple right? In terms of mobile, when you briefly turn on your phone, glance at it for merely a few seconds, find whatever needs to be found, and then turn it back off, that is a microsession! We can define it as a quick session with minimal interaction that completes a user goal in a short amount of time.
By definition: Mobile microsessions are mobile sessions which are shorter than 15 seconds.
The term “microsession” is based on the terminology first introduced by an article authored by Ferreira and his colleagues, where they coined the term “microusage”, referring to mobile usage which is shorter than or equal to 15 seconds. According to their research, a little more than 40% of the mobile usage was microusage.
One cannot settle on the exact threshold. For example, one another study from researchers at Stanford University and Apple found that for elderly adults the microsession threshold moves up to 22 seconds.
The question of the matter is how an iOS or Android application development company design their apps so that they can allow users to complete certain tasks quickly and responsibly.
Microsessions in Mobile App Design
Microsessions are extremely beneficial for user experience. Speaking in terms of mobile usage terminology, the time spent on task is inversely proportional with usability. When you convert time, it directly relates to the interaction cost, and on contrary to that, low interaction cost leads to good user experience.
If a microsession has happened, it means that users were able to reach their goal very quickly. And why is that so? More likely because the mobile design supported them and allowed them to navigate smoothly.
How Supporting Microsessions Benefits Even Apps with Tedious Tasks
Innumerable mobile tasks carried out every day are sometimes so simple that they can be easily completed in a few seconds. For instance, setting an alarm or checking new emails, looking up day’s schedule; this usually involves a quick glance at the screen and a few capacitive button presses.
These are likely to result in microsessions by the users.
But, not at all tasks have the potential to be completed in 15 seconds; even though the design might be extremely good. Activities like researching and buying a product online, watching a video on an app, reading and following instructions on a website, and composing an email are some of the most fairly complex activities and most users will take more than 15 seconds to complete them.
Suppose that your application has several intricate steps, you should consider reducing the time to complete the task which will greatly improve the user experience on your app. An extremely good design translates to a reduced interaction cost and lowers the task time.
In order to understand this, let’s take an example of a hypothetical user who is shopping online. A website decided to hire an expert Magento developer to build an online shopping website, designed meticulously for a seamless user experience. Imagine a user who is trying to purchase multiple products on a shopping website.
He opens the website or the app on his phone, searches for the products manually, adds different products in the cart, goes back and selects each item individually, opens a new tab for each product. Before that imagine all the processes going on like bypassing a login wall or signing in if the user fails to notice the Continue as guest button, then going ahead so to find the Check in button on the homepage, tap it, and eventually start the login process.
In other words, he has to designate a hefty amount of time to locate an entry point into the task.
How to Design for Mobile Microsessions
Design your apps in a way where the entry points to such tasks are easily discoverable within the app and the flows are simple and easy to comprehend. You can also go a step further and enable people to start these tasks without launching the app.
These are the most promising ways in which apps today support microsessions. In the study made by Ferreira, close to 60% of the microsessions involved reading or interacting with a notification.
Notifications do provide at least one entry point to the app, but in most cases their core function is to update the user about the state of affairs. When a designer puts a notification that is well-designed, users can get all the information they need from the text of the notification and may not need to launch the full app in order to complete a task.
For designing a notification-based microsession, one should create notifications which are self-sufficient, meaning they should convey a fully formed idea and do not require the user to go elsewhere to understand what the notification is about.
A truncated text or one which does not include enough information pushes people to gather additional context for the notification. This in return lengthens the session and degrades the overall user experience.
If by any chance, creating a notification that is entirely self-sufficient is not possible, one should at least provide users enough context to decide if they are interested in the notification or not.
Widgets can be called as the compressed views of the app. They usually present a single piece of data representing the state of the app. Widgets are ideal for tracking frequently changing information, one example is the weather, and they are generally accessed from the phone’s home screen.
Designing for a great user experience requires a lot of effort and research. At first glance it may sound like a cliched process where one is supposed to follow a bunch of predefined tasks, fit in design on regular moulds. But, this is not the case. In order to create impeccable user experiences, one needs to dig deeper into the hole to churn out gold-standard results.
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