User-friendly describes a hardware device or software interface that is easy to use. It is "friendly" to the user, meaning it is not difficult to learn or understand. While "user-friendly" is a subjective term, the following are several common attributes found in user-friendly interfaces.
- Simple. A user-friendly interface is not overly complex, but instead is straightforward, providing quick access to common features or commands.
- Clean. A good user interface is well-organized, making it easy to locate different tools and options.
- Intuitive. In order to be user-friendly, an interface must be make sense to the average user and should require minimal explanation for how to use it.
- Reliable. An unreliable product is not user-friendly, since it will cause undue frustration for the user. A user-friendly product is reliable and does not malfunction or crash.
The goal of a user-friendly product is to provide a good user experience (or "UX"). This may look different depending on the end user for whom the product is designed. For example, a user-friendly kid's game will have a much different interface than a professional CAD program. However, the rules above apply to both types of software. Even if a program has many advanced features, it is still possible to make it user-friendly by designing a simple, clean, and intuitive interface.
User-friendly products are typically more successful than those with complex, convoluted interfaces that are difficult to use. Additionally, customers often avoid unreliable products, such as software programs that are full of bugs. In order to ensure a good user experience, companies often thoroughly test their products before releasing them to the public.
Updated: January 29, 2014