How to Create Frictionless UX

Christian Bourgeois . January 4, 2019

The last thing you want to hear from your user is “I’m breaking up with you.” As a UX design firm, these are the types of problems we focus on.

You thought everything was going well until now. What happened? This happened to many companies over the years like Myspace and search engines before Facebook and Google were introduced. This is a curse of being too close with your product. You lose the third party perspective and you don’t catch the frictions in your product.

Let’s say there is a usability issue in your product. The user has difficulty at first, but eventually they learn how to get around the problem. Next time they visit your app, they know how to get where they need to go from past experiences . So, you didn’t know or didn’t feel the need to solve the usability issue. Then BOOM, one day your competitor comes out with a product that’s delightful to use.  Your user realizes they never actually loved using your product, they were just putting up with you the whole time. They start noticing all the little frustrating moments and now they decided to leave you for your competition.

1. Your product is a podium for the user.

Before tackling usability issues, we should make sure to first focus on desirability. If usability is not that great, but the product is highly desired, people will still use it. However, if a product is not desired at all, people will not use it, no matter how good the usability is.

Your product is a podium for your user.

First thing you need to know about desirability is ‘your user does not care about the product or how it operates’; all they care about is how it will improve their life. Here’s an example of a pet owner.

Your product is a podium that helps the user become their desired self. The goal is to make them feel good about themselves with your product. In this case, we step into the mind of the user who wants to be a good pet parent and social responsible person

2. Timing is everything.

Like a lot of things in life, timing is everything. This holds true, especially when buying a product. Providing the potential customer with the right information at the right time increases your chances of them buying. Here’s an example of how things might play through.Getting lots of endorsements is great, however, it can be overwhelming to read (left example). The timing of when the user sees the endorsements is crucial, so you need to find the right place to put it. In this example (right), when the user hesitates “Should I get a subscription?” you help them decide by showing an endorsement.

3. Communication is key in any relationship.

UX design is a communication between you and your user. Make your users feel understood and heard. If you ask them to do something and there is any hesitancy, you should try to understand where the hesitancy stems from. It can be simple. ‘No credit card necessary ‘ can reduce hesitation to sign up. If you’d like to collect pet friendly data from your users, how might you do it? You might say “Please share pet friendly places you’ve visited, so other pet owners can learn from you.” Your users may want to help others. Also, if finding pet friendly places to go was a pain point, the user would understand the benefit for them as well. This also makes your user return the next time they are looking for a pet friendly space. This is good for product retention, so it is a win-win situation.
Visual hints are also a huge part of communication. It reduces cognitive load and gives the user an idea of how the system works. Here, you can see a + sign, guiding you to input a place.When you present a shipping time line, present when the user will receive the product (the right example). Do not present how many days it takes to send (the left example). The left example forces users to do the calculation in their head, which means more effort. The right example shows only the important information to the users.  The user will feel it’s effortless to use your website.

Give your customer an idea where they are in the journey. This type of communication makes the journey less boring. Also, humans get a sense of achievement when they reach the goal, so your users will have higher rate of completion.

4. What comes first?

Always important information or the most frequently used information should come first. It could be a small thing. You may have experienced this already as a user. If your audience is mostly based in US and Canada, give US/Canada as the top location choices instead of starting with countries with ‘A’ letter.

If your users are veterinarians who want to check their patients, you may want to place the one needs attention and the one who just had a surgery first. Going to their ‘client list’ and seeing names alphabetically require more work when they need to access urgent ones. Do your user’s work instead of them. They will love you for that.     

5. Micro user experience matters.

While we are building the overarching strategy it is easy to miss micro UX. It is usually unnoticeable; so many products still do not consider much about it. However what irritates your user may just be a small button that doesn’t work as they had expected. Small hiccups may not seem important at first but they pile up and quickly begin to affect the entire User Experience. To have a smart user journey, you must think of all the micro interactions your user may have. Remember, users are in the journey at your website or app. The destination matters but the journey is even more important.

Here is a small UX example. A small indication after clicking the credit card input is satisfying. No need to ask yourself ‘Is it not working? Should I click one more time?’

As a UX design firm, these micro-experiences are what really sets you apart from the competition.

Let say, your users submitted a long form believing they completed it. They got an error message because they didn’t get the right password combination. How frustrating is that? Your user may say ‘Too much effort to do this again, never mind!’ Giving early input hints could help better user experience.In this case, the Signup process is reduced to the minimum. Also, the blurry background makes you curious. Your user may want to join to see what is there. Micro context writing is important.  Seeing “Hi there” after typing your name makes you feel welcomed.

Auto-suggesting ‘’ after tying ‘jameson@g’ is small, but makes the user experience seem effortless.

‘Great choice!’ You can make your users feel validated by cheering them on with small context writing.

When users notice small details that helps reduce their work, they start to rely on you. Micro interactions are a good opportunity for you to start building trust with your user. The difference between a product that people tolerate and a product they love relies on the small moments. Build your product with the small moments in mind. That is how your product can reach for excellence. If you don’t have the resources in house, reach out to a UX design firm like us for advice.

Lastly, regular checkups of the app or website experience is critical. Auditing the website regularly for bugs, or user experience issues is paramount for continued success. Regular security checks, making sure all plugins are updated regularly will keep your site and users safe. There are available UX Audit tools and resources available such as those available here

Senior UX Design, Millenial UX Design, Startup UX, UX Design Tips