End user

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"End-user" redirects here. For other uses, see End-user (disambiguation).

In product development, an end user (sometimes end-user)[lower-alpha 1] is a person who ultimately uses or is intended to ultimately use a product.[1][2][3] The end user stands in contrast to users who support or maintain the product,[4] such as sysops, system administrators, database administrators,[5] or technicians. End users typically do not possess the technical understanding or skill of the product designers,[6] a fact that it is easy for designers to forget or overlook, leading to features with which the customer is dissatisfied.[2] In information technology, end users are not customers in the usual sense—they are typically employees of the customer.[7]

Certain American defense-related products and information require export approval from the United States Government under the ITAR and EAR.[8] In order to obtain a license to export, the exporter must specify both the end user and end use using an end-user certificate.[9]

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.[10]

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 in the complexity of managing information systems. End user's position has changed form a position in the 1950s where they did not interact with the mainframe to one where they currently need to collaborate with the MIS department that has a consulting position. This raises some questions such as: Who manages each resource? What is the role of MIS? What relationship is necessary in order for the two parts to work correctly?[11]

End user empowerment

The concept first surfaced in the late 1980s and has since then raised many debates. The term is gives the user both more freedom and more constraints.[12] This phenomenon appeared as a consequence of consumerization. IT specialist need to cope with this in various way. Users now want to have more control over the systems they operate, solve their own problems and be able to change the systems to their needs. The drawback would be the corruption of the systems and data the user has control of due to lack of knowledge on how to properly operate what is given to them.[13]

In order for companies to appeal to the user they much change so that they accommodate end users in their schemes. A partnerships needs to be formed between the developers and the users so that both parties can make the most out of the products.[14] Public libraries have been affected by this in many ways and had to undergo many changes in order to cope.[15]

End user documentation

The aim of end user documentation is to help the user understand certain aspects of the systems and to provide all the answers needed in one place.[16]

A lot of documentation is available for users in order to understand and properly use a certain product. Due to the fact that the information available is usually very vast, inconsistent or ambiguous 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 the necessary documentation for them.[17]

Thus, comes the need for a well written documentation that the user can use when he needs to. Some key aspects of such a documentation are:[16]

  • Specific titles
  • Use of videos, annotated screenshots, text and links
  • Structured information
  • Easy to search, find and access
  • Clear end result
  • Detailed, numbered steps
  • Unique URLs

At times users do not refer to the documentation available to them due to various reasons. Thus they report false problems because of their inability to understand the software. This in turn causes the company to focus on “perceived” problems instead of focusing on the “actual” problems of the software.[18]

End user security

There is a lot of emphasis on security. It is placed at very big importance and people need to know that their information and data is secure. However, developers are faced with many challenges in developing a system that can be truly secure and daily security leaks happen. The complexities of creating such a system come from the fact that the behaviour of humans is not always rational or predictable. Therefore, developers need to make systems that are intuitive the user in order to have information security and system security.[19]

Another key step to end user security is informing the people about the security threats and what they can do to avoid them. 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
  • Auto-fill and cookies
  • Opening junk or shady emails
  • Email can be monitored
  • Unsecure Wi-Fi
  • Weak passwords

Even if security is not fail proof, the choices the user makes are detrimental to 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.[20]

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. While this is targeted to a certain sector it can be informative to any type of user. This helps developers meet security norms and end users be aware of the risks involved.[21]

End user undertaking

End user undertaking (EUU) is a document saying who the user is, why they are using a product and where they live. This document need 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 license.[22]

See also


  1. 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".


  1. 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 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Howe, Denis (1997-03-29). "FOLDOC entry for "end-user"". http://foldoc.org. London. Retrieved 2015-06-28. The person who uses a computer application, as opposed to those who developed or support it.  External link in |website= (help)
  3. Legal Information Institute. "U.S. Code § 8541 - Definitions". http://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.  External link in |website= (help)
  4. FIPS Task Group on Database Management System Standards (1979). Recommendations for Database Management System Standards. Washington, D.C.: National Bureau of Standards. p. 58. OCLC 6862471. The end users are persons who perform the application functions. End users include parametric users and generalized function users, but they are not system support personnel. 
  5. Shepherd, John C. (1990). Database Management: Theory and Application. Homewood, Illinois: Irwin Professional Publishing. p. 20. ISBN 0256078297. OCLC 20491157. 
  6. O'Neil, Patrick (1994). Database Principles Programming Performance. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers. pp. 4–5. ISBN 1558602194. OCLC 30777731. One of the most important features of a DBMS is that relatively inexperienced users, called end users, are empowered to retrieve information from the database. The user poses a query at the terminal keyboard, requesting the database system to display the answer on a terminal screen or on a printed sheet. 
  7. Chrissis, Mary Beth; Konrad, Mike; Shrum, Sandy (2011). CMMI for Development: Guidelines for Process Integration and Product Improvement. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Addison-Wesley. p. 581. ISBN 9780321711502. OCLC 884168009. A party that ultimately uses a delivered product or that receives the benefit of a delivered service. (See also "customer".) End users may or may not also be customers (who can establish and accept agreements or authorize payments). 
  8. "DEFENSE TRADE CONTROLS OVERVIEW" (PDF). http://www.state.gov. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of State. Retrieved 2015-06-28.  External link in |website= (help)
  9. "NONTRANSFER AND USE CERTIFICATE" (PDF). http://www.state.gov. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of State. Retrieved 2015-06-28.  External link in |website= (help)
  10. "What is END USER?". http://thelawdictionary.org. Black's Law Dictionary. Retrieved 2015-06-28.  External link in |website= (help)
  11. Rainer Jr., R. Kelly; Prince, Brad; Cegielski, Casey (2014). Introduction to Information Systems. Supporting and Transforming Businesses (Fifth ed.). Wiley. pp. 12–13. ISBN 978-1-118-67436-9. 
  12. LUPTON, CAROL (1998-02-01). "User Empowerment or Family Self-Reliance? The Family Group Conference Model". The British Journal of Social Work. 28 (1): 107–128. 
  13. "Can IT Cope With Empowered End-Users?". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  14. "End-user training & empowerment - ProQuest". search.proquest.com. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  15. Seidler‐de Alwis, Ragna; Fühles‐Ubach, Simone. "Success factors for the future of information centres, commercial and public libraries: a study from Germany". Interlending & Document Supply. 38 (3): 183–188. doi:10.1108/02641611011072387. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 "10 Examples of Great End User Documentation". blog.screensteps.com. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  17. Strother, Judith B.; Ulijn, Jan M.; Fazal, Zohra (2012-01-01). Strother, Judith B.; Ulijn, Jan M.; Fazal, Zohra, eds. Information Overload: An International Challenge to Professional Engineers and Technical Communicators. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 1–12. ISBN 9781118360491. doi:10.1002/9781118360491.ch1. 
  18. Wilkinson, Paul Johnston (2003). End-user documentation. Durham theses, Durham University. pp. 2–6. 
  19. Stanton, Jeffrey M.; Stam, Kathryn R.; Mastrangelo, Paul; Jolton, Jeffrey (2005-03-01). "Analysis of end user security behaviors". Computers & Security. 24 (2): 124–133. doi:10.1016/j.cose.2004.07.001. 
  20. Tribelhorn, Ben (2007). "End user security" (PDF). Computer Security. Harvey Mudd College. Retrieved 2015-11-04. 
  21. "End User Devices Security Guidance: Introduction - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 2015-11-04. 
  22. "Frequently asked questions on End-User Undertakings | Find Laws, Legal Information, News & Solicitors - Findlaw UK". Find Laws, Legal Information, News & Solicitors - Findlaw UK. Retrieved 2015-11-04.