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How to Reduce Friction in Your Design

Let us suppose you are a small business owner. You are spending days and nights promoting your website on social media, spending money on ads, building up your email list and what—not, but somehow the meager traffic your website is receiving, is not sticking.

Now there could be a number of reasons responsible. Let’s assume for a second that you are doing everything right from the promoting point of view. Why is it that your website is not converting your traffic to subscribers, then? Because, it is not ready to have visitors over, let alone convert them.

Think about this. It’s Thanksgiving and you have your whole bunch of relatives coming down from all corners of the world, even your grandmother from Nebraska. But the house just doesn’t seem up for it. You might even need a bit of a miracle to see you through the cleaning. Now the question is, will you throw the party without cleaning the house or, preparing or ordering food or, making sure that there is enough room for everyone? No, right? The same applies with web design.

What is friction and how to identify it?

Your website is supposed to receive visitors and the primary goal of your website is to convert them. And what stands in the way is friction. Friction, in user experience, inhibits users from accomplishing their goals, reduces conversions and frustrates them to the point of abandoning their tasks, therefore, leading to increased bounce rate. This devil takes many forms. Some of it could be:

  • Slow speed
  • Distracting visuals
  • Unnecessary actions/information
  • Confusing features
  • Inconsistencies in the interface

Friction is all of those micro-moments that slows your user down. The lesser the steps involved, the lesser the friction. Let’s take Google search for example. All it takes is just two steps:

  • Type in the query
  • And hit “Enter” or the search button

Do you see what I mean here? It leaves little or no room for friction.

How to get rid of friction

Here’s how you can get rid of friction cluttering your website:

1.       Achieve balance by exploring different media

Your website can be excitingly simple if you throw in an image or a video to complement your services. What can be said, can be shown too. And believe me, people would rather see it, than read it. This not only lessens the cognitive load, but also creates a rhythm in the user’s mind. A large block of text isn’t always what people are looking for. Visuals can create magic.

2.       Be clear about who you are

Put yourself in the user’s shoes. Can a visitor identify what your website is about within 4-6 seconds of pulling up your website’s landing page? Does it make lives easier? Does it solve a problem? And how efficiently does it solve this problem, in other words, what makes you different? This is all it takes. The rest is trash. Get of whatever comes in the way and include only those that will help users achieve their goals. This can apply to graphics, typography, overall layout or absolutely anything.

3.       Using UI patterns to eliminate multiple steps

Always remember that users are open to suggestions. When they land on a website that they are new to, a little bit of recommendation not only guides them through the page, but also reduces friction. Let’s take Twitter, for example. Their landing page automatically takes you to the signup screen with the cursor activated in the first field. This guided approach saves the user a few steps which could have included clicking on the signup screen and then clicking on the first field.

Now take Spotify for another example. When you click open the landing page, you would find it screaming for a download. The features are barely visible. This saves users the trouble of making a decision and locating the download option once the decision is made, thus reducing the number of steps and hence, friction.

4.       Break complex content into smaller sections

Your website may have a lot of things to say. And you might also have the right content to explain. But it is placement of content that you can go wrong with. Be sure to divide the sea of content into small blocks and provide the information in small bursts along the way. This practice is known as chunking. It helps in continuing the pace of the information provided while preventing the user from feeling too overwhelmed.

Even though there have been conspicuous developments accelerating frictionless design, reducing friction to zero is, at the moment, impossible. Therefore, you will need to find a way to tone down the inconveniences of friction. Lastly, test a lot to identify the friction causing agents in your website. And do not forget to keep it interesting.

Image Courtesy:

Adam Frankel

Adam Frankel is President and CEO of Frankel Interactive, a leading South Florida digital agency specializing in custom websites development, ecommerce development and digital marketing. For over 15 years he's been working with businesses and government agencies to bring their organizations online in order to build brand awareness, communicate with stakeholders, generate leads and drive sales. His belief is that all businesses need to keep up with technological trends including the continual transition from desktop to mobile, search engine algorithms changes, and social media engagement. His goal is to help them implement strategies to successfully compete in an ever crowding digital marketplace. When he isn't touting the benefits of web-based marketing, he enjoys fishing and spending time on the waters surrounding Miami with family and friends.

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