Saturday, March 7, 2009

User Awareness

The user of an automated system need not be familiar with computer concepts. However, knowledge of computers is beneficial for most operators. In what cases should the user of an automated system be unaware of the underlying computer system? Is this lack of awareness sign of good system design? Give examples to support your answer.

User awareness is, in fact, one of the things to consider when designing a system. It is stupid not to let the users know how the computer system works, at least, at the simplest level. However, there are also limitations to what users have to know about the concepts behind a particular computer system. For one, users do not need to know every little detail of the system, especially if the user is not a technical enthusiast. It would only confuse them. There are also other types of users; one is the type of user who needs to know about the system. An example of this type of user could probably be maintenance personnel from a company. He has to have some inkling about the concepts behind the system so that if the system fails in some way, he can make some immediate repairs or “first aid”.

User awareness can also be limited when it comes to high-risk systems and those that deal with security or personal information (i.e. ATM). I think it would be best if the users of these kinds of systems were unaware of the underlying concepts so that we can prevent malicious attacks to the system.

I would not consider lack of awareness as a sign of good system design because as taught to me by my instructors, a good system design has user involvement. The users have to take some part in the system design. Of course, they do not need to know all the nooks and crannies of the system.

A good approach would probably be to educate the users properly. You have to determine how detailed you should get with explaining or educating them about the system so that you can provide just the sufficient information they need to work with the system. In other words, you have to know up to what level of abstraction they can and have to comprehend.

I believe that a good system design should always include the users. Therefore, users should not be left out in the cold and must have some awareness to make use of the system efficiently.

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