Cognitive Friction User Experience (UX) topic overview/definition
Cognitive Friction: Concept Definition
Cognitive friction occurs when a user is confronted with an interface or affordance that appears to be intuitive but delivers unexpected results. This mismatch between the outcome of an action and the expected result causes user frustration and will impair the user experience if not jeopardize it. User research can help uncover such problems and generate friction-free design.
Imagine a mouse-operated graphical user interface (GUI) where selecting a folder icon requires two left clicks and opening it requires a right click. This isn’t necessarily a bad way to control the GUI—however, it’s completely counter-intuitive, as our experience with GUIs for decades leads us to expect that a single left click selects an icon and a double left click opens it. The conflict between our expectation and the way the interface works is called cognitive friction. As users will not be comfortable with the prospect of unlearning a conventional way of completing an action, they will reject such a design.
User interfaces that suffer from cognitive friction can negatively affect the user experience, leading to frustration and possibly the abandonment of a product. Avoiding cognitive friction is the job of the user experience design team, in conjunction with the UI and interaction design teams. To identify places where cognitive friction might occur, the team might engage in user interviews, create task flows, and design easy-to-use information architectures ahead of development. Expert evaluations and usability testing with users during the development of a product can highlight problems and point to solutions for them. Remembering that cognitive friction can arise across a range of conventions is vital. While areas such as mouse and keyboard design (including the entrenched nature of the QWERTY keyboard) appear obvious, designers should remain aware of potential pitfalls, established norms, and the need for eliminating user frustration.
For your convenience, we’ve collected all UX literature that deals with Cognitive Friction. Here’s the full list:
We Think Therefore It Is – Conceptual Modelling for Mobile Applications
A conceptual model is the mental model that people carry of how something should be done. Conceptual modelling can be carried out at a very early point in the design cycle so that there is a basic understanding of how users conceive tasks and this can then be brought to bear on UI design. The ability to sketch conceptual models quickly and easil...
My Head Hurts! Cognitive Friction in the Age of Mobile
There’s nothing more annoying than when things don’t function the way we expect them to. When we develop user interfaces (UI), we try to relate it to the “real world” – think the floppy disk for “save” in most applications. Why? Because we take our cues in the digital world from ones we’ve already developed in our ordinary lives. Cognitive frict...