Design Friction

Frictionless Design Choices : Learning by Shipping

  • Frictionless and minimalism are related but not necessarily the same.
    • Minimalist design is about reducing the surface area of an experience.
    • Frictionless design is about reducing the energy required by an experience.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but a great deal of product bloat comes from adding the obvious feature or directly listening to customers, or by failing to stick with design patterns. Ironically, efforts to enhance products for today’s customers are often the very features that add friction, reduce minimalism, and lead to overall bloat.

There’s an additional design challenge. The first people who use your product will likely be the most enthusiastic, often the most technical, and in general the most desirous of features that introduce friction. In other words you will get the most positive feedback by adding features that ultimately will result in a product with a lot more friction.

As the scope of the app grows the needs of different user bases diverge and splinter

#1 – Decide on a default rather than options.

Configuration options are hell to maintain and test several years into a project. And remember, once you give – it’s very hard to take away.

#2 – Create one path to a feature or task.

The question shouldn’t be : would i ever want to get there from here, but is it okay not to get there from here; how painful is this blockage; and how often will it really ever happen

#3 – Offer personalization rather than customization.

It’s easy to let these lines blur into a deep gray section. Personalization allows expression, whereas Customizations means augmentation. Make them the exception not the norm, because they can quickly become a muscle reflex for indecision.

#4 – Stick with changes you make.

It’s basic band-aid psychology. Do it fully and wait for the sharp pain to soothe or deal with fear, anticipation, and continuous dull pain.

#5 – Build features, not futzers.

If there is a story or a theory behind it, you need that feature. If it has the makings of a super cool demo, it’s all fluff

#6 – Guess correctly all the time.

If you want it to be smart, it better be freakin’ genius – or at least have a great personality.

The risk with every change is not simply failing to maintain minimalism, but introducing friction that becomes counterproductive to your goals.

Therefore the real design challenge is not simply maintaining minimalism, but enhancing a product without adding more friction.