Forget “User-Friendly”

How many times has a software vendor promised you that an application is “user-friendly”? And how many times have you been disappointed when you’ve discovered after launch that the application causes either user indifference or downright hostility?

So what’s the problem with “user-friendly”? This standard is too low. It means that the software vendor thinks you’ll be able to shove the application down the throats of your users without too much resistance. Is this how you want to spend your professional life?

What should the standard be? User-enticing. User-loved. How different life would be if the knowledge management applications we created and provided were so attuned to the needs and wants of users, so well-designed to fit seamlessly into their business processes and lives, that the users fell in love with the applications. This may seem like a pipe dream, but aren’t you tired of spending your time creating sensible systems that people won’t use or only use grudgingly? Aren’t you disheartened by the damage inflicted on your systems by the Workaround Wars?

It might be worth spending a little time thinking about what elevates an application from “friendly” to “loved.” There’s plenty of precedent. How many times have you been asked why your new application isn’t as “user-friendly” as Google or Online retailers have had a serious monetary incentive in creating sticky websites that draw the user in and keep the user at their site. What makes them so successful? Are any of those techniques transferable to your KM system? Think about it. The answers might surprise you.

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