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Do you have a sneaky suspicion your organization’s website is costing you sales? The number one reason sales and marketing growth stalls today is due in large part to poor performance from an un-optimized website. Too much friction on your website means you’re missing out on potential deals.

When too many visitors come to your website but leave without engaging, you might have a friction problem. But in the world of terrible business websites that fail at their most basic job e.g., converting visitors to customers, what exactly is friction? How do you know if you have friction hiding on your website? And is friction a bad thing? (hint: Not always. More on that later.)

What is Friction On A Website?

Surfers put wax on their boards to keep their feet from slipping off the deck. In the world of water-sports, friction is a wonderful thing. It makes catching that barrel and threading the slot totally better. But for business websites, and for our purposes now, friction can be a conversion killer. It presents a major problem to users and designers alike because it reduces engagement, increases bounce rate, and causes users to quit their task.

Friction yields the exact opposite of what we expect from an optimized business website — sales. If visitors aren’t signing up for your newsletters, buying your products, or are clicking away without filling out your contact forms, you can bet some level of friction is to blame. Nothing should interfere with customer engagement or to prevent visitors from accomplishing their goals on your company’s website.

Sadly, most B2B websites are trapped in the past — poorly structured, poorly designed, confusing, and clunky. These are silent killers for many lead generation strategies. All lead to lost sales.

As Paul Andrew from Speakyboy.com explains:

It can be tempting to do something new or innovative to your website. As creative people, it’s natural for web designers to create something unique. However, users prefer to interact with familiar UI elements because they can use their knowledge from previous experiences.

Identifying Friction On Your Website

What are some examples of hidden website friction?

  1. Large, heavy menus
  2. Poorly structured navigation
  3. Distracting visuals, crowded designs
  4. Excessive content or too many words
  5. Too many unnecessary steps in a process
  6. Too many fields in a form
  7. Page length (usually too long)
  8. Lack of cohesion between ad’s, social media and landing page visuals
  9. Unexpected costs, excess fees, or shipping charges
  10. Frivolous sign-ins or gated content
  11. Lack of authority, testimonials, or social proof
  12. Slow loading websites
  13. Lack of visible search bar (mainly for e-commerce brands)

Can Friction Be Good?

Ordinarily, anything that stands between your visitors and their aim (doing business with you) is bad. But, in certain cases, adding friction to the process can actually help. Like when you’re trying to segment buyer personas to one particular target group. Or when target buyers need a little more nurturing before they’re ready to buy. In both examples, adding a little entropy to the process to ensure the right people engage can help the conversion process.

But don’t overdo it. A little friction goes a long way. Asking probing questions in an opt-in form, or making a business email or phone number mandatory, can indeed weed out tire kickers, but it can also scare away qualified leads.

What Does Frictionless Design Look Like?

Recently, Stripe rolled out a beautiful new website refresh. Most businesses aren’t nearly as big nor have the same depth and complexity as Stripe, so it was interesting to see how they removed friction from their website. The results speak for themselves. Stripe’s marketing teams did a brilliant job of reducing complexity by only displaying content when requested. Everything else remains neatly tucked away.

stripe navigation bar

What Should You Do?

If your business website isn’t driving leads or performing the way it should, spend some time reducing friction. The user experience should be as seamless and easy to use as possible. No crazy interactivity or head-scratching design choices. In fact, for business websites, less is more. Make it your mission to remove as many of these 13 examples as you can. This will drive higher visitor engagement and improve the user experience, which will generate more leads through your website. Huzzah!

You should be able to accomplish many of these changes quickly and easily on your own. If you you need a design team to help, we’re standing by. It may be a decisive time to scrap your current website design and start fresh — especially if you’re updating your brand design or marketing strategies.

13 Places Where Website Friction Likes to Hide
Kevin Mullins
July 13, 2020


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