A UX Term – Change Friction


The year was 2010 and I was riding the train, unintentionally eavesdropping on a group of people who were loudly expressing how frustrated they were with Facebook’s latest UI update.

It was too much all at once.

Most people knew how to use the old UI, but this new one? It was different. The navigation changed, the colors shifted around, and some items were completely hidden… or so it seemed.

Around this time, I was working with a customer who was talking about the same thing, but for a different product and I coined the term on-the-spot because it just made sense. It was one of those moments where you say, “If this isn’t already a real phrase, it honestly should be.”

What term did I create?

Change Friction

I would like to go down on record for having founded the term. What an odd thing to do, but I believe this term is incredibly important.

What is it?
You see, the end-user could be you. The change, it could be life. You are used to something one day and the next, it is never the same again. I am sure you can supplement your own personal life story around an event that irrevocably changed your life and just how troubling that was to you.

Change is hard! Well, the amount of change causes, in most individuals, a sense of resistance. The volume of resistance is directly equal to a person’s stress levels and level of comfort with a previous condition.

This translates into UX in a very real-way. Too much change friction? Your customers decide it IS too much, and they go to a competitor.

When I get a chance, I will have to draw a chart to see if I can make this a bit more official. Until then? I hope you enjoy this wall of text.

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