Design Frictions for Mindful Interactions: The Case for Microboundaries

in Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Conference proceeding, New York, USA


Design frictions, a term found in popular media articles about user experience design, refer to points of difficulty occurring during interaction with technology. Such articles often argue that these frictions should be removed from interaction flows in order to reduce the risk of user frustration and disengagement. In this paper we argue that, in many scenarios, designing friction into interactions through the introduction of microboundaries, can, in fact, have positive effects. Design frictions can disrupt "mindless" automatic interactions, prompting moments of reflection and more "mindful" interaction. The potential advantages of intentionally introduced frictions are numerous: from reducing the likelihood of errors in data-entry tasks, to supporting health-behaviour change.