December 3, 2023

a little friction It’s a good thing to be in your growth funnel. In fact, I’d go a step further and declare that some of the friction in this is huge!

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to user experience is that we have to remove as many problems and obstacles as possible to become the gold standard. This is a wrong conclusion. In fact, without even realizing it, most of today’s hottest startups are adding friction to their onboarding process to improve the end user experience.

Most startups are trying to avoid friction and hope to improve their “vanity metrics”, especially sign-ups. It wasn’t until later that companies learned that to retain users, the user experience had to be personalized to entice them to sign up and keep coming back.

This is no different than a B2B product, service-based industry, or any other type of startup. Some friction is huge, and I’m here to show you the types of friction to consider, how to cross the line between frictionless onboarding and overly time-consuming onboarding, and the propensity metrics you need to track.

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to user experience is that we have to remove as many problems and obstacles as possible.

friction type

There is no playbook that tells you where to add friction to the onboarding process and growth pipeline. Instead, the process involves exhaustive testing for perfection. First, there are a few main types of friction to consider for implementation:

  • question based
  • Based on settings
  • waitlist based

Here are some examples of how startups and established companies are using friction to improve user experience and north star metrics.

problem-based friction

Canva, a graphic design platform that has experienced explosive growth over the past few years, asks users why they signed up. Are they students? company?

This data allows Canva to preload the correct templates that students find useful (presentations, learning templates, etc.), rather than templates that companies need (posters, social media, etc.). What may seem like an easy onboarding problem at first glance can take multiple rounds of growth testing to perfect.

Added friction in the form of questions, outside of the onboarding experience, can help startups gain growth pillars such as lifecycle and repositioning. Continuing with the same example, now that Canva knows that User X is a student, they can retarget that user with an ad centered on improving their grades and performance in school. Likewise, Canva may send emails tailored specifically for users intending to use the product as students.

Question-based friction is especially important for B2B startups looking to narrow down their ideal customer early on. Are they a business with 5 employees in the marketing vertical or a business with 100 employees in the logistics vertical? These types of findings are accelerated and can be tracked in the form of revenue per contract and lifetime value of each signed vertical.

Without these added minor friction issues, doubling down on segments that can accelerate business growth becomes increasingly challenging.

friction based on settings

LinkedIn has done a great job with setup-based friction where they let users add various details about themselves to create their profile. This creates a sense of satisfaction, and users will then want to add their colleagues to show off.