Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Determining User Needs
h Make the application aesthetically appealing and intuitive
h Document the development effort
h Develop user documentation and Help systems
h Distribute the application to the user
h Update the application when necessary
Not all these steps are required for each application, and the order in which these activities are
performed varies from project to project. I describe each of these activities in the pages that
follow, and in most cases, I cover the technical details in subsequent chapters.
Determining User Needs
When you undertake a new Excel project, one of your first steps is to identify exactly what the
end users require. Failure to thoroughly assess the end users’ needs early on often results in
additional work later when you have to adjust the application so that it does what it was supposed to
do in the first place.
In some cases, you’ll be intimately familiar with the end users — you may even be an end user
yourself. In other cases (for example, if you’re a consultant developing a project for a new client),
you may know little or nothing about the users or their situations.
How do you determine the needs of the user? If you’ve been asked to develop a spreadsheet
application, it’s a good idea to meet with the end users and ask very specific questions. Better
yet, get everything in writing, create flow diagrams, pay attention to minor details, and do
anything else to ensure that the product you deliver is the product that is needed.
Here are some guidelines that may help make this phase easier:
h Don’t assume that you know what the user needs. Second-guessing at this stage almost
always causes problems later on.
h If possible, talk directly to the end users of the application, not just their supervisor or
manager.
h Learn what, if anything, is currently being done to meet the users’ needs. You might be
able to save some work by simply adapting an existing application. At the very least,
looking at current solutions will familiarize you with the operation.
h Identify the resources available at the user’s site. For example, try to determine whether
you must work around any hardware or software limitations.
h If possible, determine the specific hardware systems that will be used. If your application
will be used on slower systems, you need to take that into account. See the later section
“System speed.”
 
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