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A Summary of

The Hierarchy of User Friction

Sachin Rekhi
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User friction is anything that prevents a user from accomplishing a goal in your product. It is categorized in three levels:

Interaction Friction

  • User experiences when interacting with a product
    • It covers all aspects of UI that interferes with your user being able to accomplish their goal
  • Examples include that of Apple and Amazon
    • Apple, specifically with the iPhone, having all the apps on a home page
    • Amazon found increasing page load time increased revenue
  • Usability testing is the most important method for identifying these issues

Cognitive Friction

  • Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort being used in working memory
  • The goal is to minimize this cognitive friction if it is too high
  • Uber is successful in this sense
    • Reduces the stress associated with taking a taxi, bus, or another form of public transportation
  • An effective way to identify parts of which the cognitive friction can be reduced is by illustrating the user’s experience from start to finish
    • Be able to recognize what is stressful or negative to a users experience

Emotional Friction

  • Emotions your users feel that prevent them from accomplishing their goals
  • Tinder is an example of this
    • Tinder simplified the dating experience by reducing it to a series of profile cards that you simply swipe on if you're interested
    • Tinder co-founder Sean Rad's core insight was that no matter who you are, you feel more comfortable approaching somebody if you know they want you to approach them
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