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How You Can Overcome These 3 Types of User Friction

Sachin Rekhi Founder & CEO @ Notejoy and former Head of Product @ LinkedIn:

Most teams only tackle basic forms of user friction. I categorize user friction into three levels:

  1. Interaction Friction
  2. Cognitive Friction
  3. Emotional Friction

Interaction Friction

Covers aspects of product UI that interfere with user goals. Usability testing is key to identifying interaction friction. Solutions include building intuitive interfaces, ensuring calls-to-action are prominent, reducing fields in forms and ensuring consistent UX across all products.


  • Apple: The iPhone's intuitive layout, on-screen keyboard and full web browser reduced interaction friction compared with the prior generation of smartphones.
  • Amazon: Increased revenue by 1% for every 100ms of website load time improvement.
  • Slack, HipChat, WhatsApp: Emojis, fewer conversational formalities and up-to-date contact details reduced friction compared to email and text messaging.

Cognitive Friction

Refers to tasks that require a high amount of mental effort to perform. User journeys are an effective tool for tackling cognitive friction—looking at the entire user experience required to accomplish a goal, including aspects that aren't currently serviced by your product.


  • Uber: Overcomes the cognitive friction of public transportation by making it easy to request a ride, track your driver, get a detailed price quote and make a payment
  • Nuzzel: Reduces Twitter's cognitive friction by showcasing the most popular shared articles
  • Wealthfront: Reduces the complexity of investing with a risk tolerance questionnaire and automation of index selection, asset allocation and rebalancing

Emotional Friction

Users' emotions often prevent them from accomplishing their goals. Emotional friction is the most difficult to perceive and address. Truly understanding these emotions requires in-depth user interviews to uncover their aspirations, goals and frustrations.


  • Patreon: Many creators are hesitant to beg their fans for money. Patreon used social proof to overcome the friction, highlighting respected creators successfully using the service.
  • Tinder: The risk of rejection from online dating sites like is intimidating. Tinder's profile cards make it easier to approach potential partners, allowing users to show mutual interest by swiping right.
  • Facebook: Adopted Snapchat's Stories mechanic to offer ephemeral photos and videos, easing the emotional friction of connections passing judgement on Facebook's permanent content.

Summarized by Reforge. Original article by Sachin Rekhi • Founder and CEO @ Notejoy