UX = Value minus Friction

It’s a simple formula.

UX = V – F

  • UX = User Experience

  • V = Value

  • F = Friction

If the friction or effort of doing something is higher than the individual perceived value then the majority of people will not want to do it.

Some examples where the effort outweighs the perceived benefit and therefore have the majority avoid it, despite its obvious value.

  • Working out
  • Doing your homework or studying for a test
  • Voting
  • Practicing piano or a new way to serve in tennis
  • Logging phone calls in Salesforce
  • Entering in JIRA estimates
  • Writing tests for your code
  • Usability testing

Apply this formula to anything in your life that you SHOULD do, but you don’t. The bottom line is that the hassle (friction) outweighs the benefits (value).

This is a core factor in designing software. If you want people to use it, you need to lower the friction point below the perceived value point.

For example, Marketo is NOT easy to use. However, the value is very high if you do use it. It is “easy enough” compared to the value you get from it. It is successful because the formula is still good. More value than friction.

I am designing software right now that had solid value for one type of user, but no perceived value for another type of user. Guess who complained about usability? The second type, of course. So now, my mission is to either lower the friction for them or increase their perceived value through new features. Ideally, we do both.

We often trick ourselves into thinking the value is higher and the friction is less than it really is. Don’t be foolish. Be harsh on your own products. Be a tiger mom for your product. It can never be good enough. Keep lowering friction and increasing value.

If you pretend your product is better than it is, you are the one who will suffer.


Whatya think?