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Published October 19, 2017

How Friction Makes Us Smarter

Reviewing loan documents, choosing the best health insurance plan, navigating train systems in a new city; these are all examples of things that can make your head spin and eyes glaze over.

These experiences can be critical to people’s lives, and UX designers can go down two paths:

  1. Frictionless: Shield the user from complex issues, systems, or decisions. In other words, don’t make them think.
  2. Learning Friction: Educate the user and guide their process so they can be confident and make an informed decision.

Often, the approach to these experiences is to make it easy for the customer. After all, easy is best! But what if it’s not? And, what if learning was fun?

Removing or reducing industry jargon, relating choices to real-life experiences, and putting the user in the driver’s seat, allows the user to approach the complicated scenarios in a more personal way.

When users can “play” with their options, narrow their choices, and be truly involved, they’re more like to “get it” if not also feel good about it. Though harder to build, these systems are better for true understanding.

UX thoughts to inspire you to do something differently in your design work.

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