What Is End-User Analysis?
By Jocelyn Kerr
End-user analysis is a term used in knowledge management, product design and nearly any industry where products are developed for "end-users." End-users are all the people who will use the finished product. No matter the field, end-user analysis uncovers which customer needs must be fulfilled and how to best fulfill those needs.
One of the most basic steps in end-user analysis is to assess what your users need to accomplish. The best way to find out is to write up a needs-assessment questionnaire and present it to all the end-users you're designing for. Ask users exactly what they need to accomplish and listen to their responses. If a questionnaire isn't feasible, brainstorm all the possible needs and uses your product should fulfill. Consider how your product or software will be used on a daily basis when you brainstorm user needs.
Consider how your end-users will use your product. This is different than what they want to accomplish; rather, this is how they physically interact with your product or software. For example, is it more useful for your end-users to have an open text field or a drop-down menu in the search field? Or, if you're designing a product, should it have a button, a switch or a dial? Take into consideration any special needs your users have. Interface questions can be added to your needs-assessment questionnaire if you want.
If you have a prototype of your software or product, run a test with end-users to find out what works and what needs to be changed. The test runs can be as large or as small as you want, and you can implement them at different stages of analysis. It can be expensive to build a prototype, so this is most useful if you're just upgrading or improving an existing product. This way you can make adjustments to the existing product and include the results of your testing in your final analysis.
Compile the results from your questionnaires, brainstorming sessions and prototype testing to create a blueprint for the final product. By analyzing and incorporating these results into the final design, you'll build a product that's useful, efficient and productive for your end-users. A little analysis in the early stages of development leads to satisfied users and fewer redesign issues in later stages of production.
Aubrey Kerr is a writer and photographer. With a B.A. in media arts and public relations, she has helped small business owners design and implement online marketing campaigns since 2004. Her work appears on several websites including Salon.com and the Houston Chronicle.