Positive Friction encourages an alternative design practice in order to restore human agency within online spaces. We stand for a frictional digital experience in order to explore unprecedented creative routes to escape the flaws of standardized design.
Through the recent development of web technologies, ‘digital’ became synonymous with accessibility. Design standards have been established, focusing on ‘user experience best practices’ and ‘seamless interactions’ (cf. Human Interface Guidelines by Apple). While serving efficiency, this approach drained the online world from the roughness of emotions and one-of-a-kind memorable experiences.
For those in the design world, these guidelines have deprived us of our ability to invent new forms. For users, they have led to an emotionless experience –if not abuse– when these methods, intended to provoke addiction, are nurtured by a misuse of human behavioral studies (cf. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal, 2014).
Seamless interfaces can be necessary when interacting with some services and tools, but this pursuit of effectiveness shouldn’t be the only way to design. Otherwise, we might remain in a barren world, left without any possibility for creativity and experimentation. When navigating a space designed not to make me think, how can I experience anything or feel any emotion? (cf. Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug, 2013).
As philosopher Pierre-Damien Huygues said, ‘The phrase being moved used to mean being lifted out of calmness. Why would one want this today? In the absence of emotion, a sense of calm would leave someone feeling perfectly untouched, perhaps protected from trouble — yet, lifeless. Who would want this for their life — a calm that is never disturbed?’
By disobeying the digital design standards, we find room to explore new possibilities. We create surprise and we dive into the undiscovered. Refusing these guidelines, we design new spaces within which new narratives can occur, that people should take time to discover and understand. By doing so, we create a relationship with our welcomed visitors rather than creating flows to guide emotionless users.
This concept is not limited to digital spaces. ‘Positive Friction’ stems from experiences we came across through art and design
This is how we have applied Positive Friction within our projects