Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
The Developer and the End User
custom dialog boxes, user interface elements, and add-ins. Most Excel users, of course, don’t
meet these qualifications and have no intention of ever learning these details — which brings me
to the next topic: classifying spreadsheet users.
Classifying spreadsheet users
Over the years, I’ve found that it’s often useful to classify people who use spreadsheets
(including both developers and end users) along two dimensions: their degree of experience with
spreadsheets and their interest in learning about spreadsheets.
To keep things simple, each of these two dimensions has three levels. These levels can be
combined in nine combinations, which are shown in Table 5-1. In reality, only seven segments are
worth thinking about because both moderately experienced and very experienced spreadsheet
users generally have at least some interest in spreadsheets. (After all, that’s what motivated them
to get their experience.) Users who have a lot of spreadsheet experience and a low level of
interest would make very bad developers.
Table 5-1: Classification of Spreadsheet Users by Experience and Interest
No Interest
Moderately Interested
Very Interested
Little Experience
User/Potential Developer
Moderately Experienced
Very Experienced
It should be clear that spreadsheet developers must have a great deal of experience with
spreadsheets as well as a high interest in spreadsheets. Those with little spreadsheet experience but a
great deal of interest are potential developers. All they need is more experience. If you’re reading
this topic, you probably fall into one of the boxes in the last column of the table.
The audience for spreadsheet applications
The remaining segments in the preceding table comprise spreadsheet end users, whom you can
think of as the consumers of spreadsheet applications. When you develop a spreadsheet
application for others to use, you need to know which of these groups of people will actually be using
your application.
Users with little experience and no interest in learning more about spreadsheets make up a large
percentage of all spreadsheet users, probably the largest group of all. These are the people who
need to use a spreadsheet for their jobs but who view the spreadsheet simply as a means to an
end. Typically, they know very little about computers and software, and they usually have no
interest in learning anything more than what’s required to get their work done. They might even
feel a bit intimidated by computers. Often, these users don’t even know which version of Excel
they use, and they are largely unfamiliar with what it can do. Obviously, applications developed
for this group must be user-friendly. By that I mean straightforward, unintimidating, easy to use,
and as foolproof as possible.
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