FrictionOpen Access

Friction

We’re less likely to complete a task with each step added

The more you can reduce the perceived effort in your user’s path, the less daunting a task feels and the greater the possibility it will be completed.

Choi, James J, David Laibson, and Brigitte C Madrian. 2009. “Reducing the Complexity Costs of 401 (k) Participation through Quick Enrollment.” In Developments in the Economics of Aging, 57–82. University of Chicago Press.

The study

Setup

733 new employees of a health company used a single opt-in process to subscribe to a retirement plan. Results were compared to a multi-step phone process used with 455 and 407  employees from the two previous years.

Results

Participation rates were 5% after one month and 8% after three months. With the new process, they rose to 19% and 35% respectively.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

Perform a friction audit.

Identify all the hurdles and delays your user may feel while using your product and attempt to minimise them. How many barriers to a near-effortless user experience can you find?

Takeaway image

Adding friction can help people from making mistakes.

Add barriers to counter System 1 mode, prompting users for conscious reflection to validate important information (e.g. monetary transactions). What strategic friction can you create?

Takeaway image

Add friction to make waiting times feel shorter.

Houston airport reduced the number of luggage waiting times complaints by moving the luggage area further away so that passengers spent more time walking and less time waiting.

Takeaway image

Remove friction but highlight effort.

Our willingness to pay for something increases by knowing how much work is done for us. We pay more for a cup of coffee if we see the barista working on it for several minutes.

Takeaway image
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Friction

Friction

We’re less likely to complete a task with each step added

The more you can reduce the perceived effort in your user’s path, the less daunting a task feels and the greater the possibility it will be completed.

The study

Setup

733 new employees of a health company used a single opt-in process to subscribe to a retirement plan. Results were compared to a multi-step phone process used with 455 and 407  employees from the two previous years.

Results

Participation rates were 5% after one month and 8% after three months. With the new process, they rose to 19% and 35% respectively.

study graph
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We copy the behaviors of others, especially in unfamiliar situations

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Reciprocity

Reciprocity

We’re hardwired to return kindness received

Framing

Framing

We make very different decisions based on how a fact is presented

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Loss Aversion

We feel more negative when losing something than positive when we gain it

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Default Effect

We tend to accept the option pre-chosen for us

Anchoring

Anchoring

What we see first affects our judgement of everything thereafter

Fast & Slow Thinking

Fast & Slow Thinking

We make knee-jerk spontaneous decisions that can cause regretful damage

Dynamic Norms

Dynamic Norms

We’re more likely to change if we can see a new behavior developing

Salience

Salience

Our choices are determined by the information we're shown

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