Friction on The Web

08 March 2006

Nick Usborne offers some great thoughts on how to maximize the potential for users to reach the goal of your website — interaction (to do something): Flywheels, Kinetic Energy, and Friction.

If you want someone to do something, you need to build what amounts to a funnel, or pathway. Help the reader identify the one thing they want, and then simplify and “narrow” the design and the text in order to focus on that one thing, and build energy and enthusiasm within the reader. Take away any distractions, visually or with words. Focus on the one thing.

He uses the analogy of a flywheel in a child’s car toy; you know, the kind you rev’ up and then let go? He suggests (and I agree) that users naturally lose energy from the friction of the process … the process of navigating, finding, searching, filling out, etc.

Applying this rule (friction vs. energy) is something I’m definitely going to pay attention to in my design process for my church. We frequently have events that require online registration, and it’s my goal to make the process as easy as possible for the least web-saavy in our congregation.