Two colleagues building software

What Makes Software User-Friendly?

By Thomas Schneck • April 12, 2018 at 5:00 PM

Webopedia.com notes that “Although the term user-friendly represents an important concept, it has been so overused that it has become something of a cliché.”

If you were to play a game of technology buzzword bingo, or create a technology buzzword drinking game, it is likely that “user-friendly” would be on the list. It would be there along with terms like “tangible business value” or “next-generation capabilities.”

It makes me wonder, as opposed to what? …  “nebulous business value” or “yesterday’s capabilities”?

Or maybe “user-hostile?”

There’s even a daily web comic - published every day since 1997 – called User Friendly about the staff of a small fictional Internet service provider, Columbia Internet.

Search hard on Google, and there’s even this joke: “Unix *is* user-friendly. It's just selective about who its friends are.”  OK, maybe tech people aren’t known for their humor.

So let’s see if we can move beyond the clichés, and paint a picture of we actually mean by the term “user-friendly.”

TechRepublic.com offers this set of 10 adjectives:

  1. Simple to install
  2. Easy to update
  3. Intuitive
  4. Efficient
  5. Pleasant, easy-to-navigate GUI
  6. Easy to remove
  7. Doesn't need third-party software
  8. Easy to troubleshoot
  9. Adheres to standards
  10. Effective error handling

According to TechTerms.com, these are the characteristics of a user-friendly interface:

  1. Simple. A user-friendly interface is not overly complex, but instead is straightforward, providing quick access to common features or commands.
  2. A good user interface is well-organized, making it easy to locate different tools and options.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Rather than add my own take to these definitions, I thought I would go to some DocuWare user reviews on the Capterra.com site and give you a sense of what actual users consider to be “friendly.”  And maybe let them have the last word.

“Easy to implement and use. We were up and running in a very reasonable time frame.”

“…very customizable in how we are able to store documents.”

“Web-based software. Works with almost any device. Complies with our strict security standards. The software is very flexible and easy to use.”

“Easy to use, runs in a browser, great searching capabilities.”

“Functionality is great –makes searching for documents easy and easily.” and “Cloud-based makes accessibility easier.”

Ultimately, user-friendly software is intuitive, visually engaging, and highly customizable. It automates tedious routine tasks and enables easy access to business information that supports informed decision making. At DocuWare, achieving true user-friendliness is an underlying goal of all our software development initiatives. 

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Topics: Implementation, Enterprise Content Management, Customer Experience

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