Database Management

The Human Factor[]

When developing a database, the human factor must be taken into consideration for successful completion of the final product. The end user will be working with the database day to day so physical and psychological factors must be taken into consideration.

Databases are used for everything from patient charts in a hospital to reactor levels at a power plant. The database needs to be developed with the end user in mind. If the end user has to guess what the information is that has been presented to them, they might make a decision that has life changing consequences.

A user centered design will increase productivity, create greater user acceptance, and reduce human errors. Consideration of the user is needed from the very beginning of the conceptualization stage all the way through deployment and maintenance.

Human Factor Evaluation[]

Depending on the scope and type of the database being designed, ethnographic analysis may be needed to get an idea as to how the users are going to respond to the information presented to them. A couple of analysis types are:

Focus Groups

Focus groups can be a great way to valuable information from many users. The analysis can be a one on one interview or a group interview.

Iterative Design

Another name for iterative design is prototyping. With prototyping, the user experience can be evaluated at different stages of the development and input can be taken into account at the various stages.

Usability and Utility[]

Usability and utility are extremely important. Jakob Nielsen defines usability as a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. He goes on to define 5 quality components:

  1. Learnability – How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
  2. Efficiency – Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
  3. Memorability – When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
  4. Errors – How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from these errors.
  5. Satisfaction – How pleasant is it to use the design

Usability and utility can be difficult to study, but using focus groups and iterative design will help aid in the design and implementation of a good database system. Keeping the user at the forefront of the entire process will ensure the successful deployment of a database that will serve its purpose of data storage and retrieval.