June 23, 2014

Efficient UI’s effect on app usage…

Written By Martin Sandhu


Consumers have little patience these days; in the on-demand age of the internet information is at our finger tips and easily accessible, when a design aspect interferes with processes consumers simply won’t tolerate it. In short, user interface (UI) should drive the user forwards, not impede them.

Think about checking emails on your phone, it is such a simple task that you can do it half asleep when you wake up, walking down the street or even whilst maintaining a conversation (if you’re feeling particularly rude). Email UI’s are simple and to the point – and with such frequent use they need to be.

It’s all about friction…

Friction is the name of the game here…email applications are friction-less, they are straight-forward to use, they have no unnecessary design features, they simply get the job done. But often this isn’t the requirement for an app, sometimes you want a consumer to take it slow and browse, or to have time to take in information; this is where deliberate friction is necessary.

Planned friction

Whilst friction may seem like a negative, it’s not when it is built into the design – what you don’t want is unplanned friction. Form filling is a great example here: you need a user to read a form before filling it in or ticking the relevant boxes, a friction-less design might automatically bring up the keyboard, but this would make it much harder to view the form first and cause users to simply start typing immediately.

By requiring the consumer to select a box before the keyboard appears you are adding positive friction into the design and encouraging them to read the details first.

Maintaining momentum

Whilst friction is often necessary, it should not prevent user momentum – i.e. it must not stop the user from achieving their goal. Too much friction or too little can both be causes of this, frustrating the user or leading to them simply not understanding the app.

The balance between positive friction and momentum is a fine one, which may not always be right initially, testing is essential to getting it spot on.