What are ‘frictions’ when it comes to websites and how can we avoid them?

Oli Gardner, from Unbounce, says:
“A friction is the psychological resistance that your visitors experience when trying to complete an action. Friction is a conversion killer usually caused by unclear messaging, lack of information or poor layout.”

And he divides them in two: Perceived and Actual frictions

Perceived frictions:

They are the perceptions users get when they land on a page. Classical examples of those are:

  • A page with a lot of text to read
  • A very long contact us form
  • A page with so many elements that its hard to find our way around
  • Also, when a page makes us choose between many choices

 

Let’s see some examples:

Norton Anti Virus page that makes it hard to choose an option:

 

 

This Electrician Services in Florida wants us to go through text and weird formatting too:

Believe it or not, this is the homepage

 

*Bonus: king of frictions found! Follow this link and check it out… you’ve been warned!

 

Actual frictions:

Initially not detected as frictions… but become one when users try to achieve a conversion. Examples of these are:

  • Distracting content that would make it hard for you to read
  • High number of clicks needed to complete one action (i.e. 10 clicks to purchase a product)
  • Eternally waiting for a page or one element to load
  • A form completed step by step and suddenly the steps are more that you imagine it would be
  • Been taken away from what you were after (i.e. ‘eluding’ contact us page example from Burger Kings)

Example: A video-slider that makes it hard to focus on the actual copy:

The tiny and confined font & the image moving all the time makes it difficult to focus

 

Burger Kings: when trying to reach the contact us page, you are taken to a long customer survey page instead

 

 

Recommendations on how to detect and avoid frictions:

Once you publish a website or new page take the time to revise the desired actions you want users to do. Then test it

  • How long does it take for a new visitor to reach and complete that goal?
  • How many clicks and scrolling were needed?
  • Were there any visual distractions?
  • Is the key copy positioned in a relevant space and with a good and visible sizing?

Also, if you want to take it to the next level, you can always request the services of User Testing and get the help hundreds of users that will report back on any friction or problem they encountered with the page.

At the end of the day, a good experience translates into easy way for users to access what they want/need.