In product development, an end user (sometimes end-user) is a person who ultimately uses or is intended to ultimately use a product.
The end user stands in contrast to users who support or maintain the product, such as
A sysop (; an abbreviation of system operator) is an administrator of a multi-user computer system, such as a bulletin board system
A bulletin board system or BBS (also called ''Computer Bulletin Board Service'', ''CBBS'') is a computer server ...
s, system administrators, database administrators, information technology experts, software professionals and computer technicians. End users typically do not possess the technical understanding or skill of the product designers, a fact easily overlooked and forgotten by designers: leading to features creating low customer satisfaction.
In information technology, end users are not "
Sales are activities related to selling or the number of goods sold in a given targeted time period. The delivery of a service for a cost is also considered a sale.
The seller, or the provider of the goods or services, complete ...
s" in the usual sense—they are typically employees of the customer. For example, if a large
Retail is the sale of goods
Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (e ...
corporation buys a software package for its employees to use, even though the large retail corporation was the "customer" which purchased the software, the end users are the employees of the company, who will use the software at work.
Certain American defense-related products and information require export approval from the United States Government under the
International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is a United States regulatory regime to restrict and control the export of defense and military related Military technology, technologies to safeguard National security of the United States, U.S. ...
The ear is the organ of hearing and, in mammals, balance. In mammals, the ear is usually described as having three parts—the outer ear
The outer ear, external ear, or auris externa is the external part of the ear, which consists ...
. In order to obtain a license to export, the exporter must specify both the end user and the end use for undertaking an end-user certificate. In End-User License Agreements (EULAs), the end user is distinguished from the value-added reseller, who installs the software or the organization who purchases and manages the software. In the UK, there exist documents that accompany licenses for products named in the end user undertaking statements(EUU).
End users are one of the three major factors contributing to the complexity of managing information systems
. The end user's position has changed from a position in the 1950s (where end users did not interact with the
A mainframe computer, informally called a mainframe or big iron, is a computer used primarily by large organizations for critical applications, bulk data processing (such as the census
A census is the procedure of systematically enumerating, a ...
; computer experts programmed and ran the mainframe) to one in the 2010s where the end user collaborates with and advises the
management information system
A management information system (MIS) is an information system used for decision-making, and for the coordination, control, analysis, and visualization of information in an organization.
The study of the management information systems involves pe ...
and Information Technology department about his or her needs regarding the system or product. This raises new questions, such as: Who manages each resource?, What is the role of the MIS Department
? and What is the optimal relationship between the end-user and the MIS Department?.
The concept of "end-user" first surfaced in the late 1980s and has since then raised many debates. One challenge was the goal to give both the user more freedom, by adding advanced features and functions (for more advanced users) and add more constraints (to prevent a neophyte user from accidentally erasing an entire company's database). This phenomenon appeared as a consequence of " consumerization
" of computer products and software. In the 1960s and 1970s, computer users were generally programming experts and
A computer scientist is a person
A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of soci ...
s. However, in the 1980s, and especially in the mid-to-late 1990s and the early 2000s, everyday, regular people began using computer devices and software for personal and work use. IT specialists needed to cope with this trend in various ways. In the 2010s, users now want to have more control over the systems they operate, to solve their own problems, and be able to change, customize and "tweak" the systems to suit their needs. The apparent drawbacks were the risk of corruption of the systems and data the users had control of, due to their lack of knowledge on how to properly operate the computer/software at an advanced level.
For companies to appeal to the user, they took primary care to accommodate and think of end-users in their new products, software launches, and updates. A partnership needed to be formed between the programmer-developers and the everyday end users so both parties could maximize the use of the products effectively. A major example of the public's effects on end-users requirements were the public libraries. They have been effected by new technologies in many ways, ranging from the digitalization of their card catalog, the shift to
An ebook (short for electronic book), also known as an e-book or eBook, is a book
A book is a medium for recording information
Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity ...
Electronic journals, also known as ejournals, e-journals, and electronic serials, are scholarly journal
An academic or scholarly journal is a periodical publication in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published ...
s and offering online services. Libraries have had to undergo many changes in order to cope, including training existing librarians in
Web 2.0 (also known as Participative (or Participatory) and Social Web) refers to website
A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web pages and related content that is identified by a common domain name and published on at ...
Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and softw ...
skills, to hiring IT and software experts...
End user documentation
The aim of end user
Documentation is any communicable material that is used to describe, explain or instruct regarding some attributes of an object, system or procedure, such as its parts, assembly, installation, maintenance and use. Documentation can be provided on ...
(e.g., manuals and guidebooks for products) is to help the user understand certain aspects of the systems and to provide all the answers in one place.
A lot of documentation is available for users to help them understand and properly use a certain product or service. Due to the fact that the information available is usually very vast, inconsistent or ambiguous (e.g., a user manual with hundreds of pages, including guidance on using advanced features), many users suffer from an
Information overload (also known as infobesity, infoxication, information anxiety, and information explosionThe information explosion is the rapid increase in the amount of publication, published information or data and the effects of this abundan ...
. Therefore, they become unable to take the right course of action. This needs to be kept in mind when developing products and services and the necessary documentation for them.
Well-written documentation is needed for a user to reference. Some key aspects of such a documentation are:
* Specific titles and subtitles for subsections to aid the reader in finding sections
* Use of videos, annotated
A screenshot, also known as screen capture or screen grab, is a digital image that shows the contents of a computer display. A screenshot is created by the operating system or software running on the device powering the display. Additionally, scr ...
s, text and links to help the reader understand how to use the device or program
* Structured provision of information, which goes from the most basic instructions, written in
Plain language is writing designed to ensure the reader understands as quickly, easily, and completely as possible. Plain language strives to be easy to read, understand, and use. It avoids Verbosity, verbose, convoluted language and jargon. In man ...
, without specialist
Jargon is the specialized terminology
Terminology is a general word for the group of specialized words or meanings relating to a particular field, and also the study of such terms and their use. This is also known as terminology science. Terms a ...
An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase, usually using individual initial letters, as in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or European Union, EU (European Union), but sometimes using sy ...
s, progressing to the information that intermediate or advanced users will need (these sections can include jargon and acronyms, but each new term should be defined or spelled out upon its first use)
* Easy to search the help guide, find information and access information
* Clear end results are described to the reader (e.g., "When the program is installed properly, an icon will appear in the left-hand corner of your screen and the
A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor
A semiconductor material has an Electrical resistivity and conductivity, electrical conductivity value falling between that of a Electrical conductor, conductor, such as metallic copper, ...
will turn on...")
* Detailed, numbered steps, to enable users with a range of proficiency levels (from novice to advanced) to go step-by-step to install, use and
Troubleshooting is a form of problem solving, often applied to repair failed products or processes on a machine or a system. It is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem in order to solve it, and make the product or process ope ...
the product or service
Uniform Resource Locator
A Uniform Resource Locator (URL), colloquially termed a web address, is a reference to a web resource that specifies its location on a computer network and a mechanism for retrieving it. A URL is a specific type of Uniform Resource Identifier (U ...
(URLs) so that the user can go to the product website to find additional help and resources.
At times users do not refer to the documentation available to them due to various reasons, ranging from finding the manual too large or due to not understanding the jargon and acronyms it contains. In other cases, the users may find that the manual makes too many assumptions about a user having pre-existing knowledge of computers and software, and thus the directions may "skip over" these initial steps (from the users' point of view). Thus, frustrated user may report false problems because of their inability to understand the software or computer hardware. This in turn causes the company to focus on “perceived” problems instead of focusing on the “actual” problems of the software.
In the 2010s, there is a lot of emphasis on user's security and privacy. With the increasing role that computers are playing in people's lives, people are carrying
A laptop, laptop computer, or notebook computer is a small, portable personal computer
File:Crystal Project computer.png, upright=0.9, An artist's depiction of a 2000s-era desktop-style personal computer, which includes a metal case with ...
A smartphone is a mobile device that combines cellular and mobile computing functions into one unit. They are distinguished from feature phones by their stronger hardware capabilities and extensive mobile operating systems, which facilitat ...
s with them and using them for scheduling appointments, making online purchases using credit cards and searching for information. These activities can potentially be observed by companies, governments or individuals, which can lead to breaches of privacy,
Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person's personal identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number
px, Domestic credit to private sector in 2005
Credit (from Latin
Latin (, or , ) is a cl ...
Blackmail is an act of coercion
Coercion () is compelling a party to act in an involuntary manner by use of threat
A threat is a ''communicated'' intent to inflict harm or loss on another person. Intimidation is widely observed in animal ...
and other serious concerns. As well, many businesses, ranging from
Small businesses are privately owned corporation
A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the State (polity), state to act as a single entity (a legal entity recognized by private and publ ... startups
to huge corporations are using computers and software to design, manufacture, market and sell their products and services, and businesses also use computers and software in their
A back office in most corporation
A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the State (polity), state to act as a single entity (a legal entity recognized by private and public law "born out of ...
Human resources is the set of people who make up the workforce of an organization
An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity – such as a company, an institution, or an associ ...
A payroll is the list of employees of some company that is entitled to receive payments as well as other work benefits and the amounts that each should receive. Along with the amounts that each employee should receive for time worked or tasks per ...
, etc.). As such, it is important for people and organizations to need know that the information and data they are storing, using, or sending over computer networks or storing on computer systems is secure.
However, developers of software and hardware are faced with many challenges in developing a system that can be both
Usability can be described as the capacity of a system to provide a condition for its users to perform the tasks safely, effectively, and efficiently while enjoying the experience. In software engineering, usability is the degree to which a sof ...
, accessible 24/7 on almost any device and be truly secure. Security leaks happen, even to individuals and organizations that have security measures in place to protect their data and information (e.g.,
Firewall may refer to:
* Firewall (computing)
In computing, a firewall is a network security system that Network monitoring, monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules. A firewall typically e ...
Cryptography, or cryptology (from grc, , translit=kryptós "hidden, secret"; and ''graphein'', "to write", or ''-logy, -logia'', "study", respectively), is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in ...
, strong password
s). The complexities of creating such a secure system come from the fact that the behaviour of humans is not always rational or predictable. Even in a very-well secured computer system, a malicious individual can telephone a worker and pretend to be a
A private investigator (often abbreviated to PI and informally called a private eye), a private detective, or inquiry agent, is a person who can be hired by individuals, groups or NGOs to undertake investigatory law services. Private investigator ...
working for the software company, and ask for the individual's password, a dishonest process called "
Phishing is a type of social engineering where an attacker sends a fraudulent (e.g., spoofed, fake, or otherwise deceptive) message designed to trick a human victim into revealing sensitive information
Information sensitivity is the control o ...
". As well, even with a well-secured system, if a worker decides to put the company's electronic files on a USB drive to take them home to work on them over the weekend (against many companies' policies), and then loses this USB drive, the company's data may be compromised. Therefore, developers need to make systems that are intuitive to the user in order to have
Information security, sometimes shortened to infosec, is the practice of protecting information by mitigating information risks. It is part of Risk management information systems, information risk management. It typically involves preventing or at ...
and system security.
Another key step to end user security is informing the people and employees about the security threats and what they can do to avoid them or protect themselves and the organization. Underlining clearly the capabilities and risks makes users more aware and informed whilst they are using the products.
Some situations that could put the user at risk are:
* Auto-logon as administrator options
* Auto-fill options, in which a computer or program "remembers" a user's personal information and HTTP "cookies"
* Opening junk
emails of suspicious emails and/or opening/running attachments or computer files contained in these
* Email can be monitored by third parties, especially when using Wi-Fi connections
Wi-Fi () is a family of wireless network Communication protocol, protocols, based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards, which are commonly used for Wireless LAN, local area networking of devices and Internet access, allowing nearby digital de ...
or use of a public Wi-Fi network at a coffee shop or hotel
A password, sometimes called a passcode, is a memorized secret, typically a string of characters, usually used to confirm a user's identity. Using the terminology of the NIST Digital Identity Guidelines, the secret is memorized by a party called ...
s (using a person's own name, own birthdate, name or birthdate of children, or easy-to-guess passwords such as "1234")
* Malicious programs such as viruses
Even if the security measures in place are strong, the choices the user makes and his/her behaviour have a major impact on how secure their information really is. Therefore, an informed user is one who can protect and achieve the best security out of the system they use. Because of the importance of end-user security and the impact it can have on organisations the UK government set out a guidance for the public sector, to help
The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leaders ...
s learn how to be more security aware when using government networks and computers. While this is targeted to a certain sector, this type of educational effort can be informative to any type of user. This helps developers meet security norms and end users be aware of the risks involved.
Reimers and Andersson have conducted a number of studies on end user security habits and found that the same type of repeated education/training in security "best practices" can have a marked effect on the perception of compliance with good end user network security habits, especially concerning malware and ransomware.
End user undertaking (EUU) is a document saying who the user is, why they are using a product and where they live (or where they work). This document needs to be completed and signed by a person in a position of authority who is in the end user business. All documents should be in English or if not so accompanied by a valid English translation. Usually the EUU is sent together with the product
A license (American English
American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English ...
End-user certificateAn end-user certificate, or EUC, is a document used in international transfers, including sales and arms provided as aid, of weapons and ammunition to certify that the buyer is the final recipient of the materials and does not plan on transferring th ...
End-user computingEnd-user computing (EUC) refers to systems in which non-programmers can create working applications. EUC is a group of approaches to computing that aim to better integrate end users into the computing environment. These approaches attempt to realiz ...
End-user development (EUD) or end-user programming (EUP) refers to activities and tools that allow end-users – people who are not professional software developers – to program computers. People who are not professional developers can use EUD ...
End-user license agreement
An end-user license agreement (EULA, ) is a legal contract entered into between a software developer
A computer programmer, sometimes called a software developer, a programmer or more recently a coder (especially in more informal contexts), is ...
Voice of the customer
Voice of the customer (VOC) is a term used in business and Information Technology (through ITIL, for example) to describe the in-depth process of capturing customer's expectations, preferences and aversions. Specifically, the Voice of the Customer ...
Export and import control