Interaction Cost


What does interaction cost mean?

The term interaction cost refers to the total physical and mental effort it takes for a user to interact with an app or website to achieve a particular objective or set of objectives.

If you want a more in-depth understanding of this topic, check out the FAQ section below:

Question #1: How does interaction cost affect usability?

Interaction cost has an inversely proportional relationship with usability. This means the higher the former is, the lower the latter becomes.

You see, the goal of every app or website should be to help the user go where they want and accomplish whatever objective they have for using it (i.e., a low interaction cost). If you make them work hard to do the simplest of things or access and understand your content (i.e., a high interaction cost), there is a big chance they will simply move on to an app or website with a lower interaction cost.

This, in turn, would significantly bump up your bounce rate and cut your traffic if you have a website, and increase your uninstall rate if you have an app.

Here’s an article from Nielsen Norman Group to check to know more about interaction costs.

Question #2: What are the downsides to having an app or website with a high interaction cost?

As we have seen in the previous section, the biggest downside to having an app or website with a high interaction cost is that it not only drives your existing users away but also keeps you from attracting new users, which, in turn, results in issues such as:

  1. Lower revenue
  2. Limited brand reach and visibility
  3. Slow brand growth (if any)

Let us go over each one in more detail:

The first and most obvious side effect of losing and being unable to attract users is lower revenue. It does not matter if you are selling products and services, doing affiliate marketing, or simply earning from ads, if you have a tiny user base, there is just no way you can earn a lot of money.

The second side effect of losing and being unable to attract users is having very few people talking about your brand to their family and friends. This means that the only way you can get in front of your target audience is through paid ads—which may not be a viable approach considering you do not have enough people to sell to recoup your costs.

Finally, if no one is using your app or website, it would be significantly harder for you to grow your brand. Not only will you not have the revenue required to do so, but you will also have to do a lot of trial-and-error because you do not have a large enough user base to collect feedback and analytics data from.

Question #3: What are the things that can increase the interaction cost of my app or website?

There are many things that can increase the interaction cost of your app or website, such as:

  • Unreasonably long load times
  • Complex language
  • A confusing user interface
  • A convoluted user journey

Let us take a closer look at each one:

First, unreasonably long load times are just that. The goal is to optimise your app or website to load as quickly as possible without sacrificing its features and content.

Second, complex language, as the name suggests, is a language that requires too much brainpower from the user because it has too many technical terms, grammatical errors, words, or a combination of all three. Of course, walls of text are a big no-no too.

Third, a confusing user interface refers to an app or website layout that makes the user work extra hard to find what they need. The idea is to make yours as intuitive as possible.

Finally, a convoluted user journey refers to an app or website design that makes the user take a lot of unnecessary steps to accomplish the simplest of things. The goal is to put the features and content you know your target user would want to see upfront or accessible by a few taps or clicks as possible.

This is exactly why when you land on an airline website, the first thing you see is the booking page instead of a home page talking about how awesome the airline is.