What is User Experience Friction?

And Why It May Cause Your Product To Fail

User Experience Friction:

What I am calling the distance between what you want your user to do and what they are actually doing. In the case of a mobile app, this could be measured in taps.

If it takes five taps to get from landing on your app’s screen to completing the task you want them to complete, then there is friction.

Intent:

This is what you want your user to do when they come into contact with your product. For example, if you are a dating app, then one of your intentions is to get them a date that night (yes Tinder, I’m looking at you).

Behavior:

What users actually do when they come into contact with your product. In the case of a dating app, users may or may not get a date that night depending on whether or not they swipe right on everyone they see.

Understanding Intent and Behavior:

Understanding intent and behavior can help you build better products. In fact, there are entire schools of thought based on this concept.

What Happens When There is User Experience Friction:

In order for users to complete an intent when they come into contact with your product, they need to know what that intent is and how they can accomplish it.

Friction comes from two sources: Users’ experience with other products and users’ own preferences and habits.

Understanding these sources of friction will help you build better products by knowing how to fix them. Let’s look at each source individually:

Source #1: User Experience Friction Caused by Other Products:

When a user encounters a new product, they bring their past experiences with other products with them into that new product.

Source #2: User Experience Friction Caused by Users’ Preferences and Habits:

The second source of friction is user preferences and habits. The thing about user preferences and habits is that they are not always logical.

Identifying User Experience Friction:

In order for you to identify friction in your product, you need two things: You need a way of measuring the distance between what users want to do and what they are actually doing, and you need to know what users’ intents are.

1. Identify the Problem:

Before you can fix a problem, you need to identify it. This means that you need to know what is causing friction in your product and where it is occurring.

2. Reduce Friction:

Once you have identified the problem, you can start reducing friction by changing things in your product or by removing features that cause friction (depending on how bad the problem is).

3. Test Your Changes:

Once you have made your changes, you need to test them in order to see if they worked.

Conclusion

User experience friction is one of the biggest problems that can affect your product’s success and it is important that you are able to identify and fix it before it affects your product negatively. This is why I wrote this article and I hope that you found it useful.

Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and investor.

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