In product development, an end user (sometimes end-user)[a] 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 sysops, 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 that is easy for designers to forget or overlook, leading to features with which the customer is dissatisfied. In information technology, end users are not "customers" in the usual sense—they are typically employees of the customer. For example, if a large retail 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 ITAR and EAR. In order to obtain a license to export, the exporter must specify both the end user and end use using an end-user certificate. In End-User License Agreements (EULAs), the end user is distinguished from the value-added reseller that installs the software or the organization that purchases and manages the software. In the UK, there exist documents that accompany licenses for products named end user undertaking (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 mainframe; computer experts programmed and ran the
mainframe) to one in the 2010s where the end user collaborates with
and advises the management information system 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? 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 is that the goal is to
give the user both more freedom, by adding advanced features and
functions (for more advanced users) and adding 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 computer
scientists. 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 need to cope with this trend in various ways. In the
2010s, users now want to have more control over the systems they
operate, so they solve their own problems and be able to change,
customize and "tweak" the systems to suit their needs. The drawback
would be the risk of corruption of the systems and data the user has
control of due to his or her lack of knowledge on how to properly
operate the computer or software at an advanced level.
For companies to appeal to the user, they take care to accommodate and
think of end users in their new products, software launches and
updates. A partnership needs to be formed between the
programmer-developers and the everyday end users so that both parties
can make the most out of the products. Public libraries have been
affected by new technologies in many ways, ranging from the
digitalization of their card catalog and the shift to e-books and
e-journals and offering online services. Libraries have had to undergo
many changes in order to cope, including training existing
1980s-era personal computer with end-user documentation
The aim of end user documentation (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. 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
Use of videos, annotated screenshots, 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, without specialist jargon or
acronyms, 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
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. Security See also: User (computing) 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 laptops and smartphones 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, fraud, blackmailing and other serious concerns. As well, many businesses, ranging from small business 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 back office processes (e.g., human resources, payroll, 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 user friendly, 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., firewalls, encryption, strong passwords). 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 private investigator working for the software company, and ask for the individual's password, a dishonest process called "phishing". 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 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
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 civil servants 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. Undertaking
NATO official and Afghan colonel going through end-user documentation to transfer control of barracks to the Afghan army in 2009
End-user certificate End-user computing End-user development End-user license agreement Voice of the customer
^ When used as an adjective, "end-user" is generally hyphenated; when used as a noun, "end user" is left unhyphenated. Thus, "good end-user experience" versus "good experience to the end user".
^ Dictionary of Computer and Internet Terms. Barron's Business Guides
(8 ed.). Hauppauge, New York: Barron's Educational Series. 2003.
p. 171. ISBN 0764121669. OCLC 50480181. the person
ultimately intended to use a product
^ a b Howe, Denis (1997-03-29). "FOLDOC entry for "end-user"".
foldoc.org. London. Retrieved 2015-06-28. The person who uses a
computer application, as opposed to those who developed or support
^ Legal Information Institute. "U.S. Code § 8541 - Definitions".
www.law.cornell.edu. U.S. Code. Ithaca, New York: Cornell Law School.
Retrieved 2015-06-28. The term “end-user”, with respect to a good,
service, or technology, means the person that receives and ultimately
uses the good, service, or technology.
^ FIPS Task Group on