User Friction

User friction

Refers to the minor irritants in your design that have little or no impact until someone starts using it repeatedly.

That friction point becomes more unbearable as the user scratches it, eventually the minor friction becomes a source of pain.

Pain points

Why is something so small such a big issue?

Minor friction points mostly affect your best users, people who use the system constantly, which is why it’s so important to catch and fix them.

How do you catch those friction points?

  • Ask your users about page frustrations
  • Listen to your feedback
  • Observe your users
  • Look for repetition

User friction is very often low hanging fruit, something easily changed.

When it is changed, be sure to test it. You don’t want to replace user friction with more user friction.

Turn user friction into wins

There are a bunch of good ways to get wins from user friction, the vital part is understanding which friction can be fixed, and which friction can be augmented. Augmented friction is an opportunity to use clever spinners/animations which keep the user engaged while tasks run. For example an long index search.

Turn friction point changes into wins by telling users how and why you’ve changed it.

User want to feel included in the conversation.

Using friction to intentionally slow the user down

There are good reasons to use friction to ensure that the user completes tasks successfully(confirmation prompts/undos for actions with severe consequences) or is occupied while a task runs (spinners & feedback).

This kind of good user friction is called positive friction.