When navigating through a website, you don’t want to be blocked by any obstacles, no matter what the goal of your visit is. Instead, you want to access the website and complete your task as effortlessly as possible. So, this means creating a completely frictionless, seamless experience for your customers, right? Not necessarily. When used correctly and at the right time, friction can be great for your website’s memorability and engagement.

In order to understand how to use friction in the digital world, you must first understand human behavior and how you can use that knowledge to improve users’ digital experiences. Beatrice Andrew, a Behavioral Science Consultant at LAB Group, has discussed how adding friction at the right time can be a huge competitive advantage.

Beatrice notes that implementing friction at certain moments can increase memorability because it switches a person’s thinking from system one, effortless and automatic, to system two, a more conscious and memorable process. Increasing friction and changing a user’s way of thinking can make all the difference in the memorability of your website, but be careful not to add too much as you don’t want to disrupt your users’ journey entirely.

Let’s discuss some examples of how adding friction has contributed to a brand’s success.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the cake mix brand Betty Crocker and have probably used it at some point in your life. You are used to adding the ingredients to fulfill your cake making desires, but it wasn’t always like this. When they first launched, people felt that the process was too easy and felt they were “cheating” because the steps were so minimal. So, to give people a more satisfying and rewarding experience, they added in additional steps, like adding eggs. Adding some friction into the process was key to the success of the product.

What about an example in the digital world?

When Virgin Atlantic redesigned their website some years ago, they found that they served their customers’ luxury holiday reservations options too quickly during testing. Wait, since when is there such a thing as too fast? Customers did not trust these recommendations because the timing was too quick; they believed the website didn’t tailor their recommendations enough. The solution to this problem was to slow down the page and implement a “spinner” graphic. Thus, they increased the friction in a key step of a user’s journey, which resulted in increased conversion rates and improved brand favorability.

Here are some other examples of friction integration options to design a better user experience:


– Confirm Actions with Consequences: Confirmation for actions like emptying the trash or deleting a file can improve the user experience by forcing them to fully understand what they are about to do, thus preventing any unwanted mistakes.

– Anticipate Errors: Gmail has a notification that can save you from forgetting an attachment when you have stated in the email that there is one.

– Delaying Actions to Let You Reconsider: Many email platforms give you the ability to “un-send” an email shortly after sending it to allow you a few seconds to cancel it and fix any errors with the email.


– Keep Users Busy: On some websites’ loading pages, they present customized quotes or fun facts to distract the users and keep them engaged while the website is loading.

– Make Loading Process Transparent: Showing a loading progress indicator on your website gives users the feeling that the loading process is quicker and more fluid, decreasing frustration.

There are many more options for integrating friction into your web design to improve user experiences and increase your website’s memorability. We are website design experts at New Target and can help design a website for your specific brand that implements the perfect amount of friction at the ideal times. So, contact us today to get started on your website redesign!

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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