User Needs & Characteristics

Digital systems need to be used by an end user, which could be an employee or member of the public.

Users will have basic expectations of the system, which is usually defined in terms of their needs, in other words, what they want the system to do. The system will also need to cater for the type of user and their different characteristics, which will determine their ability to use the software or access the service.

In this lesson, we’ll learn about:

  1. How digital systems are used to meet user needs and ensure the quality of a product/service
  2. Understand how the characteristics of users affect the use of the digital product

1. Meeting User Needs

In our modern digital age, there are plenty of opportunities to utilize amazing technologies to enhance customer experiences, reduce pain points and create amazing products and services. Let’s look at some ways technology can be used to meet user needs and guarantee quality.

Appropriate & Effective Functionality

Digital technology is ubiquitous in the modern world, and its impact can be seen in all aspects of our lives. One of the most important places where digital technology is making an impact is in the area of product and service functionality. Appropriate and effective functionality is essential for any product or service to be successful, and digital technology is helping to ensure that this is always the case.

One of the ways that digital technology is helping to ensure appropriate and effective functionality is by making it easier than ever before to prototype new products and services. With a computer and some basic software, you can create a prototype that looks and behaves very much like the finished product. This allows you to test out different ideas and see which ones work best before you commit to anything.

Digital technology is also making it easier to collect feedback from customers about how they are using your product or service. This feedback can then be used to make changes and improvements that ensure that the product or service continues to be appropriate and effective. In today’s competitive market, it is essential to constantly improve your product or service to stay ahead of the competition.

Reduction of Pain Points

Another important way that technology supports users’ needs and quality is by reducing pain points for users. A pain point is any aspect of a product or service that causes frustration, inconvenience or even harm. By using technology to identify and address these pain points, we can make sure that users have a positive experience with whatever it is we’re offering.

For example, digital customer service platforms allow businesses to provide support to their customers around the clock. This eliminates the need for customers to wait on hold or call back during business hours. In addition, chatbots can help to resolve customer issues quickly and effectively. By automating certain tasks and providing instant support, chatbots can help reduce the amount of time and effort customers need to invest to get help.

Overall, digital technology has helped to reduce pain points in a number of ways. By making it easier for customers to interact with businesses and by automating certain tasks, digital technology has made it simpler and more convenient for people to obtain the products and services they need.

Accessibility Considerations

Digital technology has made it easier for people with disabilities to access information, products and services. For example, text-to-speech software can read aloud websites and documents for people who are visually impaired, and screen readers can help people who are blind navigate around digital interfaces.

Additionally, many digital products and services have features that make them more accessible to people with different abilities, such as zoom functions that make text larger or audio controls that allow people to adjust the volume. By ensuring that our digital products and services are accessible, we are making it easier for everyone to participate in the digital world.

Compatibility

It’s also important to consider compatibility when developing digital products – will they work on all devices and operating systems? By considering these things, we can create products that everyone can enjoy.

Digital technology has helped ensure compatibility in digital products and services by allowing developers to create products that work on various devices and operating systems. This has made it easier for people to access the products and services they want, regardless of their device. Additionally, by using digital technology, businesses can reach a wider audience and increase their profits.

Availability

Digital technology has revolutionised how businesses operate and has allowed for products and services to be delivered to consumers more efficiently and timely. By utilizing digital technologies, businesses are able to ensure that their products and services are available when and where consumers need them.

For example, businesses can use digital technologies to improve the availability of their products and services through online platforms, such as websites and apps. Additionally, businesses can use digital technologies to improve the availability of their products and services through automated processes that reduce the amount of time it takes to fulfil orders or provide customer service.

By using digital technologies, businesses are able to improve the availability of their products and services, which in turn helps them to better meet the needs of their customers.

Good User Experience

Digital technology has revolutionized how users interact with digital products and services. By using advanced algorithms and analytics, developers can create user experiences that are personalized and engaging. This helps ensure that users have a good experience with the product or service, which can lead to higher satisfaction and loyalty levels.

Additionally, technology can help to detect and fix problems before they become too serious. For example, if a user is having trouble completing a task or finding what they are looking for, the technology can provide feedback or clues to help them along. This prevents frustration and improves the overall user experience.

Overall, digital technology plays a key role in creating positive user experiences. Its ability to personalize interactions and detect and fix problems quickly makes it an essential part of creating successful digital products and services.

Cultural Awareness and Diversity

Digital technology has helped to ensure cultural awareness and diversity in digital products and services by making it easier for people to connect with others from around the world. Through social media platforms, users can communicate with others from different cultures, learn about their customs and traditions, and even collaborate on projects. This has led to a more culturally diverse world online, where people can interact and learn from each other more meaningfully.

Another aspect of cultural awareness and diversity through digital systems is how systems can be easily adapted to other cultures. Languages can be changed quickly, user interfaces can change to meet cultural experiences (e.g. right to left text rather than left to right), and colours can be adapted according to individual cultural standards.

Further Thought

Can you think of any software updates to a game or program that have actually made the system more difficult to use? Why was that?

2. How User Characteristics Affect Digital Product Use

The characteristics of end users have a big impact on the digital technologies that are used to access a service or product. Different age groups, skills, education levels, and technical knowledge levels will affect how a user interacts with a given piece of technology.

Here we’ll break down some of the most important characteristics of end users and how they can impact the technologies they use.

Age

One of the most important characteristics of end users is their age. Different age groups tend to use different technologies in different ways. For example, younger users are generally more comfortable with newer, more complex technologies than older users. They’re also more likely to be early adopters of new technologies. On the other hand, older users may prefer more traditional methods or be less comfortable with change. It’s important to keep age in mind when considering which technologies to use for a given audience.

Skills

Another important characteristic of end users is their skills. Different people have different skill sets, which can affect their ability to use certain technologies. For example, someone who is not very good at using computers might have difficulty using an app that requires a lot of computer skills. This is why developers need to consider their target audience’s skill level when implementing a digital system.

Education Level

The education level of end users can also affect how they interact with digital technologies. For example, someone with a higher education level might be more comfortable using complex websites or apps than someone with a lower education level. This is why it’s important for developers to consider the education level of their target audience when implementing a digital system.

Internal / External Audience

Another important characteristic of end users is whether they’re an internal or external audience. Internal audiences are typically comprised of employees or other members of an organisation who already have some knowledge about the organisation’s products or services. External audiences, on the other hand, are made up of people who aren’t familiar with the organisation or its products/services.

This distinction is important because it can affect the level of complexity you can use for different technologies. For example, you might use a more complex technology for an internal audience that already has some background knowledge but opt for a simpler technology for an external audience that doesn’t have much knowledge about your organisation.

Level of Technical Knowledge

Another important characteristic of end users is their level of technical knowledge. This can vary greatly from user to user, and it’s important to consider this when selecting digital technologies. Users with low technical knowledge levels may be more comfortable using simpler technologies, while users with high technical knowledge levels may be more comfortable using more complex technologies. Finding the right balance when selecting technologies for your target audience is important.

Additional Needs

Finally, it’s also important to consider any additional needs that your end users might have when selecting digital technologies for them to use. For example, if your target audience is composed primarily of people with disabilities, you’ll need to make sure that any technology you select is accessible for them to use. Taking into account the needs of your end users is essential for ensuring that they’re able to use the selected technology successfully.

Some examples of common additional needs you will want to ensure technology can be adapted for include:

  • Sight loss – we can adapt to this audience through text-to-speech software.
  • Hearing loss – we can adapt to this audience by ensuring subtitles are provided for any audio or video.
  • Colour Blindness – we can adapt to this audience through a customisable colour palette.
  • Severe Mobility Issues – we can adapt to this audience through compatibility with devices such as eye controllers.

Further Thought

What kind of digital system do you prefer to use? Touchscreen or Keyboard/Mouse? Why is this?

Lesson Summary

So to summarise what we’ve learnt in this lesson:

  • Digital technology helps to create appropriate and effective functionality for products and services.
  • It also helps reduce user pain points by making it easier for them to interact with businesses and automate certain tasks.
  • Additionally, digital technology has made products and services more accessible to people with disabilities and compatible with various devices and operating systems.
  • By using digital technologies, businesses are able to improve the availability of their products and services.
  • Good user experience is essential for any product or service’s success, which is why digital technology plays such a key role in creating positive user experiences.
  • Finally, cultural awareness and diversity are important considerations when developing digital products or services.
  • Different age groups, skills, education levels, and technical knowledge levels will affect how a user interacts with a given piece of technology.
  • Age is one of the most important characteristics of end users. Different age groups tend to use different technologies in different ways.
  • Another important characteristic of end users is their skills. Different people have different skill sets, which can affect their ability to use certain technologies.
  • The education level of end users can also affect how they interact with digital technologies.
  • Another important characteristic of end users is whether they’re an internal or external audience. Internal audiences are typically made up of employees or other members who already have some level of knowledge about products or services, while external audiences are generally made up of those who don’t know much about the organisation.
  • It’s essential to consider any additional needs that your target audience might have when selecting digital technologies for them (e.g. if your target audience includes people with disabilities).