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Is there another way of saying something is 'user-unfriendly'?

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maybe "high learning curve" might suit your needs, but it might help to know a bit more about what you are referring to. –  MaQleod May 9 '11 at 17:51
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@MaQleod: careful, those learning-curve expressions are ambiguous. –  RegDwigнt May 9 '11 at 18:17
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"not user-friendly" to make it simple. –  masarah May 9 '11 at 18:23
    
What is the thing? It might make a difference –  UpTheCreek May 9 '11 at 18:28
    
@MaQleod Punishing someone for giving the wrong answers (despite good intentions) is 'user-unfriendly' –  Ambo100 May 9 '11 at 18:30
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13 Answers

up vote 57 down vote accepted

The direct antonym of user-friendly is user-hostile (urban dictionary), a word used frequently amongst those in the user experience fields:

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+1 excellent sources –  Andy May 9 '11 at 18:59
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I've never really understood why Jakob Nielsen is revered as the authority on usability. I certainly don't find his website at all pleasant to use, but calling it user-hostile seems rather bombastic, which is why I don't like this term. –  UpTheCreek May 10 '11 at 6:29
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@UpTheCreek: You may want to consider the term user-apathetic. –  Stuart P. Bentley May 24 '11 at 21:13
    
It's probably the most accurate hyphenated expression at least, although it does bring to mind some image of a computer hitting the user on the head with the hammer. Perhaps it was a layer 8 problem, after all? –  shinyspoongod Jun 19 '12 at 6:45
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A couple options:

Unintuitive

Clunky

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+1 for clunky –  FumbleFingers May 9 '11 at 18:22
    
Intuitive (and thus, unintuitive) refers to the trait a person might have of being able to intuit. The object that is being intuited is referred to as being intuitable; the antonym would be 'unintuitable'. –  Yahel May 10 '11 at 2:10
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Actually, I prefer unintuitive, but both of these are good choices, and probably better convey "user-unfriendliness" than does user-hostile, which in my opinion is a stronger negative than what is probably desired. –  John Y May 10 '11 at 2:11
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@yc01: What you say may have been the case at one point, but that ship has long since sailed. (I'm not even sure it was ever in port, frankly.) Your meaning is listed as 3rd in Merriam-Webster's entry. I would think most modern dictionaries corroborate the use of intuitiveness to refer (usually) to the thing being intuited. –  John Y May 10 '11 at 2:17
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@yc01: Well, you could ask a question about it here (and I think you will find that she is wrong) –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft May 10 '11 at 6:09
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Unwieldy implies that something is difficult to control, and can be applied to computer user-interfaces or physical devices.

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A couple of other words that might be appropriate:

  • Awkward
  • Frustrating
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Not technical, and not exactly antonyms (too broad), but effective enough. Worth consideration, depending on what the OP needs it for. –  John Y May 10 '11 at 2:19
    
@Jonh Y - yes, difficult to answer without knowing the context. –  UpTheCreek May 10 '11 at 6:06
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If there are accessibility issues, you might call it inaccessible

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I would go with 'unfriendly'. The 'user' part is redundant, particularly in the case of software. In fact uses of it outside the scope of software are really "loans" of the term.

In any case I would argue that most synonyms of "unfriendly" don't convey the same precision, and have fundamentally different meanings. Software can be "unfriendly" because it's cumbersome (it takes too many gestures to acomplish a task) even if it's easy to use (it's always obvious what the right gesture is). Similarly words like "complex", "slow", "ugly", "poorly designed", "unintuitive" etc all cary degrees of precision that are either more or less precise than "unfriendly".

So, I think "unfriendly" really is the best choice when you want to convey a "general defect in the usability or character of an interface". The alternatives almost always convey something fundamentally different.

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"unfriendly" could also mean that the application is rude. –  Joachim Sauer May 10 '11 at 7:40
    
@Joachim, it is rude to waste users' time with a poor interface. –  dss539 May 10 '11 at 20:47
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I often like to suggest that the interfaces of non-linux OSs are counterintuitive.

Cludgy

Confusing

or

Windows-y

-EDIT- While I was typing this, someone suggested clunky

Which is a great answer.

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You must've loved Lindows then 8) –  Reuben Mallaby May 9 '11 at 21:24
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  • Lotus Notes, anyone so afflicted will understand immediatly
  • User Hostile, bit extreme but some systems really are
  • Bureaucratic, probably the most useful expression in describing an unhelpful and tedious to use interface.

The best real life description of a poor user interface I ever heard was "As user friendly as a cornered rat".

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For the specific case of software, I'm a huge fan of the expression usability-free, though it should only be used in snark-appropriate contexts.

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In severe cases you can just say that a device (or the interface of a device) is "unusable."

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There are already some great answers but I would add another option I've seen for when it's not obvious how to use something: "opaque".

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I think the word obtuse is also used to mean user-unfriendly.

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Often I find the antonym for user-friendly is the word cryptic, although it may be too specific in some cases. I can see situations where a very graphical interface is wholly unintuitive but not necessarily cryptic—just lousy.

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