What Is an End User? Definition, Examples and Tips

Updated February 3, 2023

An end user is the person a product development team has in mind when they design a product. They differ from customers because they can’t resell the product or service they purchase. If you work in product development, it can be beneficial to understand your end users.

In this article, we define end users, explain how they're different from customers and provide tips and example scenarios to help you identify them.

Key takeaways:

  • The person or entity who purchases the services may not always be the end user.

  • End users are consumers who use goods and services.

  • Developers often consider delivery to end users as the last step in the production process.

What is an end user?

An end user is a person for whom a product development team designs their product. The term "end user" is used in the product development process in software engineering, information technology and other technology-related fields. End users are the final consumers of a product at the end of the product development process. As a product developer, it's important to keep the end user in mind throughout the entire development process to make the best possible product for the intended users.

Related: What Is Product Development Strategy?

End user versus customer

"End user" and "customer" are similar terms, and they’re the same in some cases. However, it's important to understand how the two differ as you develop a product. An end user is someone who completes the final purchase of a product, while a customer can purchase a product and then resell it. If someone is both the purchaser and user of a product, they're both the customer and the end user.

Related: What Is Customer Profiling? (Plus How To Do It Successfully)

Tips for understanding the end user

It's important to consider your end user throughout the product development process. Here are tips you can use to help you understand and identify your end users:

Determine the needs of your end user

One tip for considering your end user is to know their needs. To develop the best possible product for your intended users, you have to know what needs you can meet through your product. You can determine your end users' needs by asking what problem they have that you can solve with your product.

Related: How To Understand Customer Needs in 4 Steps

Get input from your end users

Another tip is to get input from your end users. You can gather input through surveys, interviews and conversations, and you can use this input to inform your product development process and help you create a product that your customers want to use. Getting input can benefit your product development process in many ways, including:

  • Making it easier to identify and solve problems with the product

  • Getting ideas for product features that your end users enjoy

  • Learning what your end users like and dislike in products

  • Applying feedback that encourages people to adopt your products

Conduct usability testing

You can also conduct usability testing to get valuable information from your end users that can help you improve your product. Usability testing is the process of seeing how real users interact with and use a product. This can help you understand your users and make improvements to your product. Usability testing can take the form of interviews, surveys and other methods. It can help you determine if your end users can use your product to complete intended tasks.

Related: How To Write a Survey That Works for You: Tips for Success

Design a user persona

Another key tip for identifying and considering your end user is to create a user persona. This persona is a fictional character representing your intended user that you can reference as you develop your product. In your user persona, you can include the name and demographics of your fictional character as well as their needs, occupation, goals and frustrations. This can guide you in creating a product that your end user can enjoy and functionally use, and it can also help you identify your end users.

Related: What Is a User Persona?

End user examples

Reading through real-world examples can make it easier to understand end users and why they're important. Here are a few example scenarios:

Example 1

Imagine that you're developing a software program that businesses can use to plan and execute their social media marketing campaign. A small marketing firm buys your software and uses it for its new social media campaign. In this case, the marketing firm is both the customer and the end user, as they both purchase and use the product.

Example 2

You're developing a new memory card that people can use to store large video files. A tech hardware company purchases your memory cards to sell to its customers, and one of its customers, a video content creator, buys a memory card to store their video files. In this case, the tech hardware company is your customer, as they purchase the memory card from you, and the end user is the video content creator who uses the memory card.

Example 3

Your company is developing a new planning software to make it easier for college students to stay organized. One student purchases your software to help them manage their homework, schedule and to-do list. Because the student purchased the product and also used it, the student is both a customer and an end user.

Example 4

Your pet care company is developing a new cat food blend. A customer buys the cat food and feeds it to their cat. In this case, the cat owner purchases the cat food, and the cat eats the cat food. Therefore, the cat owner is the customer, and the cat that eats the cat food is the end user.

Example 5

You're producing a new protein bar made especially for kids. A parent buys the protein bars to give to their kids on a long road trip. The kids eat the protein bars, and the parent doesn't. Therefore, the parent is the customer, and the kids who eat the protein bars are the end users.

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