The terms ‘User’ and ‘End-user’ can be easily used with the inappropriate meaning.
In Design we often talk about: the users of the design outcomes, or who are the users of…?, as referring to the audience of a particular design solution. However, according to dictionary.com, the most appropriate term would be ‘end-user’ to refer to the final/ultimate user of something, such as a design solution.
The term ‘end-user’ comes from the computer sciences to define the ‘ultimate user for whom a machine, as a computer, or product, as a computer program, is designed.’ Wikipedia defines this term as ‘the person who uses a product’, stating the difference between the consumer of a product (end-user) and the person who purchases that product. In terms of design, two different types of users can be identified within the problem-solving process: the designer (producer-user) and the audience (end-user). The term ‘user’ is often used in a generic way referring to the audience as the user of our design solutions. In simple words, the term end-user should be used to referring to the last link of the chain only: the link at the end, though this might vary according to each chain and its particular objectives and context.
Design methods (end)Users
Information design is defined as a ‘user-centered discipline’, which means that the most important link of the chain and the ‘end-user’ should be the audience. However, the other links of the chain, such as the designer, and other professionals involved in a particular project are also of importance to be considered. To obtain a more effective solution, the focus of a problem-solving strategy is often on the audience and its needs, but sometimes it is also worth analysing the designer’s needs as if these are improved, results would also be more successful. This is the case of design methods, which are aimed to guide designers, although at the very end the audience will be also favoured.
As explained in a previous post, many different types of design methods can be found. Nevertheless, most design methods share the same objective: help and guide designers through the problem-solving process to develop an effective solution. In addition, a design method can aid designers in different moments or stages of that process. This means that their end-users are the designers, and not the users of the solutions (the audience). Of course, eventually, the adoption of a design method might aid also other users.