Avoiding Website Friction

What do you think of when you hear the word “friction”? Some might be taken back to earth science class and the concept of inertia. That objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Come on, you remember the in class demo. What keeps a ball from continuing to roll on forever is the friction between it and the floor below and the air resistance in front of it.
Or maybe the word friction makes you think about the constant gridlock of politicians in Washington. That no matter which party proposes whatever idea, there will be friction with the opposing party in trying to pass it. Now there’s another example of inertia: immovable objects.
Its doubtful though that you relate friction to your small business website. But it is a concept that you need to be aware of in order to obtain those all important “conversions” from user visiting your site (e.g., signing up for your newsletter, completing the check out process when purchasing one of your products, etc.).
To use technical jargon, the concept of friction when using a website comes under what developers and designers call “User Experience” (usually shorthanded to simply “UX”). Illustrating UX more simply through the friction concept helps us lay people get our arms around how we want visitors to our websites interact with it.
Not that visitors to your website are thinking in terms of friction either. Its one of those concepts that nobody thinks about when its absent, but boy oh boy do they notice when it slows them down. Sort of like taking for granted the 99% of the time that you make a call on your cell phone and it goes through, but how you curse your provider when driving along and you have no bars.
So what are some examples of friction and the lack of it on a small business website? Let’s say you own a restaurant and a potential customer wants to check out your food and beverage offerings. If at the top of your home page they click a tab and it opens another page that immediately puts their eyeballs on your food and drinks menu, no friction. They can decide right away if they want to click on the “make a reservation” button strategically placed at the bottom of the menu (now that’s a conversion any restaurant owner loves!).
But lets say your home page doesn’t include a tab for the menu. Instead its tucked away on your “About Us” page. And on that page the user needs to download separate pdf’s for your food, drinks and wine menus (and those don’t include any way to click through to make a reservation). At this point you’re probably getting the idea of how much friction your potential patron is encountering and why they simply move on to the next restaurant result from their Yelp search.
That’s just one very simple example of how friction in the user experience with a website can block those oh so critical conversions. If you sell products on a website (i.e., “Ecommerce”), think about all the points in the process where a user can give up because of too much friction: accessing your product catalogue; browsing from product to product; adding to and viewing a shopping cart; and most importantly the critical completion of check out (to quote from Jerry Maguire, “Show me the money!”).
So how do you avoid friction that results in a negative user experience and potential customers giving up before a conversion? Here are some basic items to keep in mind when developing and designing a new website for your business or redesigning an existing one:
Easy Navigation: the more intuitive it is for users to go from one page to the next for additional information on your business, its products or services, the more likely that they will arrive at the destination of conversion.
Fast Loading Speeds: not only is a visitor likely to just close the browser tab while staring too long at a blank screen as a page loads, but search engine algorithms also consider loading speeds when ranking search results. Bonus tip: don’t just consider bottom line cost when deciding which website hosting service to use. Going “on the cheap” probably also means slow loading speeds.
Engaging Website Content: when a visitor lands on any page on your site, don’t drive them away with boring, irrelevant or overly dense content that causes their eyes to glaze over. They will likely decide its easier to leave your site instead of endure another moment of brain pain (i.e., friction!).
Professional” Looking Design: just as somebody is more likely to choose a newer model taxi with a clean paint job for their ride and not one that looks like it belongs in a third world country, visitors arriving at a website that conveys professionalism are more likely to take a trip around it.
Returning to the above referenced relationship between inertia and friction, visitors to your website will continue to roll towards a conversion so long as they don’t encounter too much friction along the way.
LAD Solutions has a team of website development and design experts that can assist you with providing a positive user experience to your website visitors. To learn more about our website development services please call (888) 523-2926, or click the button below to submit your request, and one of our representatives will be in touch with you shortly!