Designing difficulty to draw users in… but does it keep them?

In current marketing many of the blogs, podcasts and talks at conferences are preaching to “REDUCE FRICTION”.  There are several examples of how reducing friction is correlated to increased conversion.  In my work it takes a lot of effort and attention to reduce friction wherever possible.  The focus needs to remain on your user’s’ experience limiting friction wherever possible and creatively obtain the data that you need without additional burden to your users.

Increasing Friction

I have been intrigued by the concept of intentionally adding friction into your process.  Designing friction into processes and in social media applications, most notably SNAPCHAT.  When I was first introduced to SnapChat I found that the company didn’t offer any help, tutorials, or user guides on its website.  “The Snapchat app uses a principle Josh Elman from Greylock refers to in his blog post as “shareable design”: the idea that an interface is best understood when explained by someone else.” (source)  The ‘shareable design’ seems implement the cognitive bias, Ikea effect.  In psychology the Ikea effect is, “The IKEA effect is a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created.” (source).  Once an app gets enough users to activate the network effect, using the sharable design to drive user adoption can be a good strategy.  

Reducing Friction

Since the goal of most marketing efforts is to increase conversions, we often focus on reducing friction.  When I talk about marketing friction, what I mean is steps and clicks that users must endure in order to do business with your company.  If you make an order form across three pages that users have to complete fields and then click to the next page you will loose many people that (while interested in buying from you) are not willing to jump through your hurtles.  The site Unbounce has an infographic reporting that forms with 3 fields average 25% conversion, increasing to 5 fields drops conversion to 20% and forms with 6 fields drops to 15% (source).  Today Fast Company reported that SnapChat’s CEO Evan Spiegel is “Snapchat is being redesigned to address concerns that the app is “difficult to understand” and “hard to use.”” (source) So while adding friction was used to get SnapChat their initial amazing growth for them to expand their user base they will need to make the app easier for users to use.  It will be interesting to see what choices they make in order to appeal to users that are over 35.  The next year will be an interesting battle of the social apps; SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.  That is a topic for other posts :-).  

About Tim Lynch

SaaS Growth is my job, understanding consumer behavior and creative problem solving fuels my curiosity. Striving to be a good father and husband is my journey.