User Friendly Interfaces

Written by Kimberly Clark
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The term "user friendly" is often used to describe an application that is simple and intuitive for a novice to operate. Though applicable to a variety of systems, the term is most often used to describe the graphical user interface (GUI) of a website or some sort of software product. The GUI is the part of the website or software that the user sees and interacts with.

Thus a user-friendly interface would be defined as a GUI that is instinctive for any user, the expert as well as the beginner, to operate. Making a GUI menu driven instead of command-driven is an example of making an application more user-friendly. Including online help files is another way to make an application easier to use.

Easy to Operate

User-friendly interfaces are designed in such a manner that a new user could open it up and perform a large portion of the functions contained in the application. This should be possible even without the person ever having to consult their user's manual. This is generally accomplished by including clearly labeled menus, toolbars or buttons in the GUI.

In addition to making it easier for users to perform certain functions, user friendliness also involves creating screen layouts that are visually pleasing and informative. In the old days a computer program that worked properly was described as a good one. Nowadays, a good program is one that not only works, but is also easy for a new user to operate.

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