Focusing on the IT End-User Experience

Most computer systems and applications are designed to provide information to human users. There are certain interactions between applications or routines that work behind the scenes to process data, but in the eyes of the user community, they are of secondary importance. Users want high performing systems that return timely results and usually they don’t particularly care how that is achieved.

This mindset is not restricted to the field of information technology. People appreciate a product or service that works as advertised and delivers the goods in a manner that is easy to understand and use. It’s the rationale that drives the quest to build a better smartphone or a new convenient home appliance. Everyone wants to use physical devices or software applications that furnish the desired results without any unexpected delays or complications.

There needs to be a balance between offering novel experiences to a product’s users and ensuring that they work correctly. Advertising a telepathically controlled starting mechanism in an auto that still requires the turn of a key will not go over good with the public. But the inclusion of a pushbutton key rather than a traditional design can influence an individual’s purchasing decision. Overpromising is not conducive to creating a product that appeals to its intended audience.

Focusing on the IT End-User Experience

In the IT world, usability and the user experience (UX) are two related concepts that speak to the overall satisfaction with the operation of a particular piece of software or a computing device. The two terms can be more fully defined in this way.

  • Usability refers to the degree that the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction of specific users are met by the product, service or system with which they are interacting.

  • User Experience is defined by the International Organization for Standards in ISO 9241 - 210. It identifies the user experience as a person’s perceptions and responses resulting from the anticipated or actual use of a product, system or service. It includes the effects a user experiences before, during, and after their exposure to the item under review.

During a software application’s design phase a lot of consideration should be given to how users will interact with the product. Some general best practices should be followed when attempting to create user-friendly programs.

  • Specify the usage context including how and under what conditions the expected audience will use the application.

  • Identify business and user requirements to ensure they are all addressed by the finished product.

  • Create design solutions that implement the requirements and usage context while keeping the user experience in mind.

  • Evaluate designs by conducting usability tests that incorporate a sample of the intended user base. Modify the design as necessary to address user feedback.

Using these principles will help in developing applications that provide a high-quality user experience. Once development and the roll-out are completed, other entities in the IT department become responsible for maintaining user satisfaction.

How Monitoring Helps Maintain User Satisfaction

No matter how amazingly innovative and attractive a system’s interface is, users will be disappointed if its performance is not on par with its appearance. The incredible efforts of your design and development teams will be wasted if users refrain from using the system due to slow or inconsistent response time or sporadic availability. In the case of internal systems, this may lead to decreased productivity and employee unrest. Customer-facing systems that exhibit degraded performance can result in lost business with direct negative financial implications.

Addressing user concerns regarding performance and availability requires a comprehensive approach to monitoring the database transactions on which so many applications depend. IDERA’s Precise for Databases offers an IT team a unified platform to monitor transactions for Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Database, IBM Db2, and SAP Sybase ASE systems. It is a valuable tool for keeping your applications available and performing efficiently for your users.

Precise can continuously sample databases with very little system overhead, making it ideal for production. It identifies the top resource-consuming SQL transactions and database objects and allows you to drill down to analyze and diagnose performance issues. The tool provides expert recommendations that can be instrumental in timely problem resolution. Tuning recommendations are also available which let you proactively address potential issues before they impact your users.

In the end, one of the most important roles of an IT department is to give the people what they want. The power of Precise monitoring makes this an easier proposition.

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