User vs usage friendly

An article, posted about 3 years ago filed in , , , & .

In English usability folks typically talk about user friendliness. Literally translated, user friendly translates in Dutch to “Gebruikersvriendelijk”. In Dutch “Gebruikersvriendelijk”, however, is used interchangeably with “Gebruiksvriendelijk” (see also: Taaladvies) which translates literally back to “usage friendliness”. Not too fast: these might be two different concepts after all.

  English Dutch
User friendly / gebruikersvriendelijk 61,300,000 622,000
Usage friendly / gebruiksvriendelijk 5,930 250,000
Ratio 1 / 10.000 5 / 2

Table: Google’s frequency counts for the different languages

User friendly

User friendly is about being nice to the user. Making something user friendly may be about nice icons, nice words, nice visual design, but you can, strictly speaking, still be very friendly and not allow a user to accomplish a certain task.

Usage friendly

Usage friendly is about the act of using something being friendly. It is a change in focus: while designing usage friendly interfaces may still entail having nice icons, nice language and visual design it is more so about making the interface accessible; being forgiving when errors are being made. It is designing for the (user) intended usage.

A good user interface is not only user friendly, but also usage friendly. As designers we should hence aim for usage friendly applications, not just user friendly applications.

Usage experience?

I’m in doubt whether we should also talk about usage experience, instead of user experience… ah, crap … enough for semantic nitpicking.

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