What is friction in the context of a web form?
Friction is anything that slows the student down when completing it. A friction-free web form can be completed almost intuitively.
It tends to be small, not big.
The language is uncomplicated.
The imagery is helpful and simple, not showy or irrelevant.
The field labels are clear.
Any help text is useful.
Any place-holder text gives a good example of what you are expecting the student to enter.
There are no hidden surprises.
It does what it says on the tin.
How to build a friction-free form
It really is super simple. Involve others in the testing. Anybody who is not as invested in the web form as you are is well-placed to provide a talking commentary as you watch over their shoulder. In all the times I have watched I have always had a really good and obvious suggestion for an improvement, almost always simplifying something.
If a friction-free form can increase completions from 30% to 40%, this is the best value work you can do on your web form.