Uncovering 13 places where website friction likes to hide

Kevin Mullins

Do you have a sneaky suspicion your business website is costing you sales? Are the number of leads lower than you expected?

The number one reason sales and marketing growth might stall on your business website is because of poor performance and website friction.

What Is Website Friction?

Website friction falls into a category marketing experts call CRO or conversion rate optimization.

Too much friction on your website means potential customers are bouncing away and you’re missing out on leads and conversion opportunities. Website friction interferes with visitors getting what they want on your website.

To understand how friction may drive your target audience away from your website and to your competitors, we need to go a little deeper by first looking at CRO.

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

By most standard marketing definitions, Conversion Rate Optimization is all about spreadsheets, percentages, and numbers. Moz’s imaginary Roger’s Robotics example does a good job at providing the standard definition:

To figure out our conversion rate, we would take the number of unique purchase orders and divide it by the total number of sessions.  

They illustrate it like this:

Calculatying conversion rate by session

However, like Hotjar explains, we like to look beyond the standard definition to consider actual users.

Marketing isn’t only about numbers, it’s about people. The visitors that find and browse our websites.

Think of it as the process of focusing on understanding what drives, stops, and persuades your users, so you can give them the best experience possible—and that, in turn, is what makes them convert and ultimately improves your conversion rate.


Your CRO statistics should be more than a landing page’s benchmark percentage generated on a marketer’s spreadsheet. It should be a deeper understanding of how your target audience interacts with your website.

Determining their expectations and intent when visitors hit your site. Tracking where they came from (whether through a search engine, directly, or via social media) and where they go when they leave. Learning how they use the website. Then tweaking it to maximize your desired outcome.

That is conversion rate optimization and it makes a difference to your sales.

Ultimately, the goal or removing friction is about delivering an amazing user experience on your website so that visitors become customers, and then turn into champions for your brand.

What is friction on a website?

Surfers put wax on their boards to keep their feet from slipping off the deck. In the world of extreme water-sports, friction can be a wonderful thing. It makes catching that barrel and threading the slot totally better.

gif of surfer staying on the board

For business websites, and for our purposes now, friction in the lead generation or sales process can be a conversion killer.

It’s a major problem for users and designers alike because it reduces engagement, increases bounce rate, and causes users to quit their task. According to Marketingland:

79% of online shoppers dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from the same site again.

Friction produces the exact opposite of what we expect from an optimized business website. It’s why, according to an analysis by the Baymard Institute, nearly 69% of all eCommerce visitors abandon their shopping carts.

If you find your visitors aren’t signing up for newsletters, buying products, or are clicking away without filling out your contact forms, you can bet some level of friction is to blame. But what if you’re not running an e-commerce website? Should you care about friction?

Let me put it this way; if your business depends on new customer growth from your website, you should absolutely care about removing friction.

Nothing should interfere with customer engagement or prevent website visitors from accomplishing their goals on your company website. Sadly, most B2B websites are stuck in the past — poorly structured, poorly designed, confusing, and clunky.

These are silent killers for many lead generation strategies. As Paul Andrew from Speakyboy.com explains:

It can be tempting to do something new or innovative to your website. As creative people, it’s natural for web designers to create something unique. However, users prefer to interact with familiar UI elements because they can use their knowledge from previous experiences.

How to identify friction on your website

What are some examples of hidden website friction?

  1. Large, heavy menus
  2. Poorly structured navigation
  3. Distracting visuals, crowded designs
  4. Excessive content or too many words
  5. Too many unnecessary steps in a process
  6. Too many fields in a form
  7. Page length (usually too long)
  8. Lack of cohesion between ad’s, social media and landing page visuals
  9. Unexpected costs, excess fees, or shipping charges
  10. Frivolous sign-ins or gated content
  11. Lack of authority, testimonials, or social proof
  12. Slow loading websites
  13. Lack of visible search bar (mainly for e-commerce brands)

Can friction be a good thing?

Ordinarily, anything that stands between your visitors and their aim (doing business with you) is bad. But, in certain cases, adding friction to the process can help. Like when you’re trying to segment buyer personas to one particular target group. Or when target buyers need a little more nurturing before they’re ready to buy. In both examples, adding a little entropy to the process to ensure the right people engage can help the conversion process.

But don’t overdo it. A little friction goes a long way. Like what happened when MarketingSherpa tested adding one additional form field. That one extra field decreased conversions by a whopping 11 percent! Asking probing questions in an opt-in form, or making a business email or phone number mandatory, can weed out tire kickers, but it can also scare away qualified leads.


What does frictionless design look like?

Recently, Stripe rolled out a beautiful new website refresh. Most businesses aren’t nearly as big nor have the same depth and complexity as Stripe, so it was interesting to see how they removed friction from their website. The results speak for themselves. Stripe’s marketing teams did a brilliant job of reducing complexity by only displaying content when requested. Everything else remains neatly tucked away.

stripe navigation bar removing website friction

What can you do to reduce website friction and increase conversions?

First, you need not become a digital marketing expert or conversion rate optimization consultant. If your business website isn’t driving leads or performing the way it should, spend some time hunting down friction on your website.

  • The user experience should be as smooth to use as possible.
  • No crazy interactivity or head-scratching design choices.
  • Never trade clarity for fancy bells and whistles.
  • Keep navigation bars and calls to action clickable, simple, and direct

Remember, for business websites, less is more. Make it your mission to remove as many of these 13 examples as you can. You’ll see higher visitor engagement and an improved user experience, which will generate more leads and sales through your website. Huzzah!

You should be able to accomplish many of these changes quickly and easily on your own. If you you need a professional website design team to help, we’re standing by.

Perhaps it’s time to scrap your current website design and start fresh — especially if you’re updating your brand design or marketing strategies to grow your business. If so, we want to talk to you.

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