How eBay Uses Microinteractions to Delight Customers

At eBay, we’re always looking for ways to truly localize for all of our international markets. Our design team has spent some time designing and experimenting with exciting new experiences and microinteractions for shoppers in China.

Chinese shopping experiences are markedly different than those in the US. The most noticeable difference is in the design language. Chinese ecommerce is incredibly vibrant, fun, and visually engaging. These shopping experiences literally call for your attention at every turn. It’s almost impossible to not stay engaged. If US ecommerce is mac and cheese, Chinese e-commerce is truffle mac and cheese with lobster.

To succeed in China, your design choices really need to stand out and connect with shoppers in a meaningful way. We’ve learned through user research that shoppers think highly of companies that continuously invest in their user experience. This is where microinteractions come into play. At the root of it, it’s about getting a shopper's attention when it counts. The question is, where do you direct that attention?

How eBay approaches microinteractions 

Microinteractions are small moments that have the potential to make a big impact, especially in China where investing in the user experience delivers measurable gains in shopper engagement and conversion. At eBay, we believe that microinteractions have the power to transform critical moments in the shopping journey. Through design and research, we’ve identified important moments to add microinteractions and have discovered through experimentation that this can positively impact our conversion metrics.

However, we’re not just focused on conversion. We know that microinteractions can positively impact our experience at an even larger scale. They can affect the perception of the brand or the speed of the application. They can impact the trust a user has in the product or help educate users on complex features. They can even simply be used to delight the users at important moments.

Conversion-focused microinteractions

Microinteractions are often used to draw the users attention to important conversion-based moments in the experience. Think “Hey, click here!”

Price Strikethrough

Price strikethrough 3

Percentage Off Badge

off badge 1 big2

Number of People Watching

Eye watching 3

Incentivized Share Button

Coupon hint9

Celebratory microinteractions

Microinteractions can be used to delight users and celebrate important moments. Think “Woo-hoo! You did it!”


Add to cart big2

Registration Confirmation

Registration confirmation 4

Educational microinteractions

Microinteractions are often used educate shoppers on complex features in a simple and enjoyable way by showing in addition to telling. Think “Hey, I can help walk you through this.”

Journey Map

journey map 4

Trust-based microinteractions

Microinteractions can be used to signal to the user that this platform can be trusted. In China, authentic items are difficult to come by and drawing attention to ecommerce trust signals like a 30-day money back guarantee are critical in creating loyal shoppers.

eBay Money Back Guarantee

eBay Money Back Guarantee4


It’s important to not only think about the individual microinteraction, but also think about them as a unit. They should work together in harmony to walk the user through the experience and draw their attention to the right things at the right time.

Below you can see how we envision many of these microinteractions working together on an item page.

iphone 10 sequencing iPhone10


At eBay, if we are unsure about something's impact, we test it.

We ran a simple experiment where we rolled out the animated percentage off badge to 50% of our shoppers in the China market. Our hypothesis was that having this percentage off badge animate on the homepage would increase the click through rate (CTR) of an item.

off badge experiment mac5

The purple percentage off badge is on the top left of the discounted items.

After running the experiment for three weeks and exposing a large audience to this animated badge, we were able to get statistically significant results. Those revealed that users who saw the animated percentage off badge were more likely to click an item as compared to those who saw the static percentage off badge.

This helps show that animations and microinteractions not only have numerous qualitative benefits, but also strong quantitative ones. This data has empowered us to spend time integrating microinteractions as part of our design system, and we continually look at how to bring these moments to other parts of the customer experience.

We’d also like to thank the other members of the design team for their contributions to this project. Thank you Orlando Angel, Fred Zaw, Susie Liu, and Pree Kolari!