Friction is one of those words that we immediately connect with. Irritation is the emotion that accompanies it. When we are online, surfing, buying, connecting, finding information, disseminating information, we want a smooth, happy experience. And we are getting what we want in more cases every day.

As the world goes online, those who plan and build websites are becoming hyper-sensitive to not just the needs of their visitors, but to their wants. From better designs to color section to enhanced loading speeds, the digital world is waking up to what our fathers and grandfathers knew when they built architecturally important buildings to house libraries and beautiful spaces with compelling front windows in their retail stores.

Using findings from psychology and sociology, brick and mortar stores are designed to appeal to the masses, how they think, what they want along with how to get more sales out of each one of them. It’s not an accident that you have to go all the way to the back of the grocery store to get a gallon of milk. But, along the way, the designers have noted what shoppers want and so the aisles are wide, the lighting is good, there are interesting displays to see along the way. In the end, everyone is happy.

There are friction points that have been long discussed and weeded out of the brick and mortar world, but many websites still are littered with them. And each point of friction lowers the UX and leads to less time on your website, dissatisfaction, and fewer sales.



If your website has a search bar that means your website is fairly large and so there is already a challenge presented to your visitors over the website that is smaller or singularly focused. Your visitors are using the search bar because their first thought is that they can’t find what they are looking for in a few steps. Minor friction point. But, when the search does not return with exactly what they type into it, minor becomes major. This is like having an online customer service rep who is never available.

Help visitors find the information or product they are looking for quickly by using a powerful search engine armed with weighted searches and synonym management. And then place it in an obvious position at the top of the website.


Because so much of what we are consuming on websites these days is images, we’ve become accustomed to flipping through them like in a photo album. Flip page, look, flip page. Pages that are slow to load are a major point of friction and more that because according to Kissmetrics, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in at least two seconds.


You understand your website and your team does, but has anyone else tested it to be sure that the average person can find what they are looking for in just a few steps? You’ll lose 25% of your visitors if the design is confusing. Like a good retail store, the products should be easy to find and the paths to them and through them need to be obvious, uncluttered, and easy to navigate.


If you’ve never mentioned that you are charging for shipping and the customer sees it added to their bill, you’ll see more carts abandoned. You can alleviate this problem by turning this into a positive and advertising “Free Shipping!” if the purchase exceeds a certain amount. Then, by default, they will realize that if they don’t reach that mark, they’ll be paying for shipping but then it’s seen as more of their choice.


Your visitor has looked all over your website and made their decision on what they want and now at the checkout, their preferred payment is not an option. Click, abandoned cart.

The more options you can make available for payment, the more likely it is that your customer will complete their purchase. By being a little creative and offering alternative payment terms like a payment plan can sway a customer who is just not quite sure they can afford that large purchase.


Reduce the number of steps you require of your customers to the absolute necessary. Don’t make anyone login, sign up, or create an account just to make a single purchase. Make them happy the first time, and you can get all this information at another time. A “guest checkout” option is a great ecommerce solution.

Whether it’s a contact form, quote form, opt-in form, booking form, or checkout form, if you want more conversions, use fewer form fields—only the necessary fields. Later, after you have earned their trust, you can get the information you desire.

There is a direct correlation between the number of required fields and completed forms. Add more fields, lose more customers.

Friction happens when something on your website slows or stops the prospective buyer from moving through your sales funnel. Identify these and get rid of them and sales will soar.

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.

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