Make no mistake that fluid, unified web design is an irreplaceable factor in the “big picture” of brand strategies for conversion and retention.

There’s a ton of noise out there. Ambitious, emerging brands across a wide range of categories are saturating the marketplace like crazy. It’s no surprise that it takes more than a few impressions for people to remember a brand. The reality is that, for online audiences, marketing messaging, promotional information and other mission-laden content can get lost in the shuffle rather easily.

The cohesive design intends on assisting brands with amplification of that messaging and having the firepower to echo through that noise. It can deliver results and be a driver for coveted visibility when plenty of serviceable options exist. Perhaps more than anything, it weighs heavily on a brand’s propensity to be understood.

Or, without justification, it can be remarkably complex.

Decoding several layers of user engagement online has long been a tricky puzzle to piece together. What’s clear about this engagement is that users most certainly wish to journey in complete control of their session, without any navigational curveballs. The path to brand-consumer transparency ought to be a personalized one.

The pursuit of breathtaking, intuitive user experience (UX) requires making sense of the behavioral triggers that define these online sessions. Often times, behavioral patterns boil down to simplification.

And so, the implications of a frictionless user experience loom large.

The idea of cognitive friction is a severe disservice to brands seeking retention and conversion. And, let’s be real – what brands aren’t striving for such objectives?

Cognitive friction is the mental disharmony that occurs for users, resulting from unexpected interface challenges on the journey to conversion. Essentially, cognitive friction personifies the disconnect or confusion that happens when a user is alarmed by an action’s outcome, based on another expected outcome of that same action. It disrupts the flow and energy of a user experience that’s supposed to be inviting and seamless.

Ultimately, frustrations with cognitive friction are likely to lead users astray and, in the meantime, diminish trust in a brand’s products or services. For brands, winning over audiences begins with the correction of misleading or perplexing interface design. Fortunately, various design strategies can diagnose challenges with cognitive friction before it becomes too costly or damages reputation.

Wireframing

While conversions are at the core of brand success and largely supported by user experience design, compelling UX design can also generate other advantages too.

Beyond just conversions, design is supposed to inspire brand confidence and serve as a blueprint for advocates to process brand characteristics. It can also capture the attention of casual visitors and, in a flash, be a revelation for new audiences.

When users are overwhelmed or thrown off by confusing or evasive design, it leaves a sour taste. All of the potential advantages that design should yield suddenly slip through the cracks.

Wireframing (or “prototyping”) exercises are an initial step that can be taken in order to identify specific journeys on which users might explore, prior to cognitive friction becoming a relevant concern. An interface’s wireframes are a visual representation of likely user journeys and pathways to conversion or information, strung together before the design phase rolls around. The timing of this exercise prior to designing is intentional; outlining the structure of information architecture should inform the balance and configuration of design, not the other way around.

In addition to structure, wireframing exercises communicate the intended functionality of an interface’s pages as well as the ebb & flow of associated content that falls within the scope of the interface. Wireframes, often designed with vector-based UX tools like Adobe XD, are composed in a raw, black and white skeleton format so that user experience friction can be detected without design distraction.

Altogether, in user experience design, wireframing strategies accomplish the sorting of information in a way that’s most logical and relatable to users.

Microinteractions

Microinteractions are interface animations that convey system status and support error prevention in user experience. Also an ace-in-the-hole for “branding” purposes, microinteractions continue to soar as a popular, practical strategy for engaging users that browse within an interface. Microinteractions exist as clues that actions are indeed taking place within the framework of a digital experience. These visual references then provide users with the instant (and much-appreciated) feedback that’s necessary to propel them through an online journey and overcome potential hazards related to cognitive friction.

Microinteractions can adequately inform user experience with several functional benefits, all of which breathe life into processes that could otherwise be complicated or cumbersome. Menu microinteractions affirm a user’s navigational direction or positioning on a page while keeping that same user apprised with expand-able and collapse-able features. Banner microinteractions can be leveraged to elicit user response and create urgency around time-sensitive or promotional information. This is a tactic that seizes attention and directs users to information that may need to be communicated more immediately. This year, United Airlines has masterfully woven banner microinteractions into the fabric of its website in order to communicate updates about COVID-19 travel policies & restrictions.

Additionally, microinteractions can appear in the form of “progress bar” buttons or informational transitions, the latter of which is highly applicable for financial services brands as well as other online retail companies synchronizing enormous amounts of data. Microinteractions also enhance automation and facilitate the momentum of task flows within an interface.

What’s tremendous about microinteractions is that they keep users attentive and alarmed while still fostering a “grounded” experience that doesn’t leave them high and dry on the quest for information. Microinteractions charmingly encourage user patience, even when there’s a rush of moving parts to digest within an interface experience. Rely upon them as a favorable strategy against user setbacks associated with cognitive friction.

Conclusion

Fluent, intuitive design has long been a process of trial and error. Nevertheless, it’s the engine that accelerates brand strategies for converting and retaining consumers. Imperative to understanding where user journeys make sense, and where user journeys fall short.

Cognitive friction is where user journeys can miss the mark. It’s a headache that casts a shadow on brand experience, discouraging users from exploring and absorbing important content leading to those objectives of conversion and retention. Consumers become less inclined to resonate with a brand and its respective mission or services. Frustrations with cognitive friction will jeopardize amicability and trust, both in that moment and in the future.

Refined user experience places a larger emphasis on simplification, and rightfully so. Don’t let a consumer’s journey with your brand be defined by interactive turbulence or confusing navigation. Improve your digital impact by rallying around a dynamic frictionless user experience, for the purpose of sharpening conversion and retention.