Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and material elements sliding against each other.
In user experience, friction is everything that prevents website users from achieving their goals. Frictions lead to increased bounce rate, reduce conversion rate, and frustrate users to the point of leaving your website for good. In this article, we will discuss some ways to reduce friction and thus improve the user experience for your website visitors.
A flawless or, in other words, the frictionless user experience can now be called a new standard in web design and development. The goal here is to make the lives of your website visitors simpler and more enjoyable, at least while they are browsing your website or app. This is achieved by focusing on reducing bad friction throughout the user journey.
We can find two types of friction in user experience; let's figuratively call them good and bad friction.
Good friction is the pop-up asking you if you are sure you want to make payment or Windows asking you if you are sure you want to delete a file, and so on.
This type of friction is necessary when you need to make sure the captured data is correct, or to prevent the users from making a mistake in an important task or taking an incorrect action.
Bad, unwanted friction is often created by clutter, inconsistency, and unfamiliar features. This is the button that looks different from the rest of the buttons on the page, this is the layout that confuses the user, etc. This is what we want to eliminate as much as we can or, even better, eliminate frictions completely.
Below are the main principles UX designers have developed to reduce friction. Applying these principles, you will certainly create a flawless experience for your users.
Think through your user’s journey
When you create a new product or website or app, first and foremost, you need to consider the full user journey, every step the user will need to take to get whatever you are offering them. This way, you will understand where there might be some unnecessary friction in the flow of the user experience and where it might actually come in handy.
It might be pretty obvious that navigation has to be easy and intuitive. Surprisingly though, more often than not, navigation is the source of bad friction. You might think your navigation choices are pretty obvious, but your users will disagree.
It is true that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to navigation, but there are some common practices at play here. And, you can always ask your users how they prefer to navigate your website, app, or service. How? With tests of course!
The fewer steps it takes for a user to complete a task, the better. We all had to endure a form with 30 obligatory lines to fill in at least once in our lives. You do remember the agony of frustration you experienced, don’t you?
Now, we are not advocating for limiting the steps to just two everywhere. Use as many steps as is absolutely necessary. Just make the steps as effortless as possible.
You can also break up complex tasks into smaller steps, one huge form into a few smaller ones, etc.
It is very easy to overwhelm your user with too much information. To avoid this, simply divide complex and big portions of content into smaller chunks. This way you are pacing the flow of the user journey, making the user experience more flawless. You allow the user to process the information without frustration.
Every time you make your website users learn new interface elements and patterns, you create bad friction and absolutely unnecessary frustration. Using familiar patterns and elements you let your customers use the knowledge of previous experience, thus, they do not need to pay extra attention or make an extra effort to get what they came to you for.
For example, a search bar is usually at the top right corner of a page, so your customer will immediately look there if they need to search for something. If they do not see the search bar in its usual place, they will get frustrated.
It is understandable that you want to stand out among the competition. But doing it at the expense of user experience is a very bad idea. Instead, offer the best service or product on the market, and provide it with a flawless user experience. Your customers will appreciate it and will return the favor in the form of conversions.
Same goes for consistency. You can not create a flawless user experience if your design elements create a disruption.
As we already stated before, the ultimate goal is to make the lives of your website visitors easier and more enjoyable. By making your interfaces simpler, you basically deliver the essential by cutting off everything that is needless and unnecessary.
Focus on the things that actually help the user and cut off everything that doesn’t.
There are various types of content: text, graphics, images, animations, etc. In the visual world of web, using images and other visual elements is a great way to take advantage of various cognitive processes. By creating a rhythm in the user journey you lessen the cognitive load, making it easy for the customer to understand the message and make a required action in the end.
Ever since the invention of the wheel, mankind has been striving to reduce friction in all its forms. People want everything to be easy and flawless, this is in our veins. By applying the principle described above, you will fulfill your customers’ desire for frictionless life, at least while they are browsing your website, and they will be grateful big time.
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