Interface Design

User Support

Usability Testing

User Needs

The determination of user needs is one of the most critical part of software system design. Often, managers and data processing personnel decide what the system should provide to users, but systems developed in this manner usually fail. If a system does not meet the needs of a user, the user typically will not use the system, or use it ineffectively. Determining user needs requires interviewing samples of various potential user populations to obtain information about what users need from the system in terms of data, accuracy, output characteristics, response time, etc.

User needs is determined at several levels with the lower levels interacting closely with interface design. Typically, only the higher level is referred to as "user needs", while the lower levels are referred to as "task analysis." The following steps are typical:

  1. Identify and describe potential users of the software product or system.
  2. Determine the needs of those users and develop usability objectives for those needs.
  3. Utilize appropriate data collection methods to describe current related task requirements and performance.
  4. Analyze tasks to determine component behaviors.
  5. Design (and redesign) activities into effective and efficient task structures.

As noted above, the design of the task structures must take place in conjunction with the design of the interface because the interface will often dictate how the task can be performed.

Synergetic Applications has considerable experience determining both user needs and performing task analysis and design. Please contact Dr. Williams ( for more information on how we might help you.