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Designing Effective Output

Output is information delivered to users through the information system by way of intranets, extranets, or the World Wide Web. Output can take many forms: the traditional hard copy of printed reports and soft copy such as display screens, microforms, and video and audio output


Because useful output is essential to ensuring the use and acceptance of the information system, there are six objectives that the systems analyst tries to attain when designing output: 1. Designing output to serve the intended purpose. 2. Designing output to fit the user. 3. Delivering the appropriate quantity of output. 4. Making sure the output is where it is needed. 5. Providing the output on time. 6. Choosing the right output method.


The content of output from information systems must be considered as interrelated to the output method. Whenever you design output, you need to think of how function influences form and how the intended purpose will influence the output method that you choose.

Output Technologies
Producing different types of output requires different technologies. For printed output, the options include a variety of printers. For screen output, the options include attached or stand-alone displays. Audio output can be amplified over a loudspeaker or listened to on a variety of speakers, ranging from small to surround soundcapable on a PC. Audio output may also be designed for mobile phones. Electronic output is created with special software tools.
PULL TECHNOLOGY. An important output technology made possible by the Web is pull

technology. If you have tried to pull information from the Web by clicking on links, you have used the most basic type of pull technology. In the future, evolutionary agents (programmed using intelligent agent software) may be used to help organizational members find what they need on the Web. These agents will relieve some of the users typical burden of searching the Web, because the agents w ill observe and understand users behavior as they interact with a variety of material on the Web, and then can be programmed to seek out the information users want. In this way, Web searches will be more efficient and more effective for users.
PUSH TECHNOLOGY. Another type of output analysts design is Web and wireless content

delivered via push technology. Push technology can be used for external communication to push (electronically send) solicited or unsolicited information to a customer or client. It can also be used within the organization to focus the immediate attention of an employee or a decision maker who is facing a critical deadline to critical items. The term push technology can be described as any content sent to users at specified times, from basic Webcasting to selective content delivery using sophisticated evolutionary filtering agents.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Output Technology

There are several factors to consider when choosing output technology. Although the technology changes rapidly, certain usage factors remain fairly constant in relation to technological breakthroughs. These factors, some of which present trade-offs, must be considered. They include the following: 1. Who will use (see) the output (requisite quality)?

2. How many people need the output? 3. Where is the output needed (distribution, logistics)? 4. What is the purpose of the output? What user and organizational tasks are supported? 5. What is the speed with which output is needed? 6. How frequently will the output be accessed? 7. How long will (or must) the output be stored? 8. Under what special regulations is the output produced, stored, and distributed? 9. What are the initial and ongoing costs of maintenance and supplies? 10. What are the human and environmental requirements (accessibility, noise absorption, controlled temperature, space for equipment, cabling, and proximity to Wi-Fi transmitters or access pointsi.e., hot spots) for output technologies? Examining each factor separately will allow you to see the interrelationships and how they may be traded off for one another in a particular system.


Output is not just a neutral product that is subsequently analyzed and acted on by decision makers. Output affects users in many different ways. Systems analysts must put great thought and care into designing the output so as to avoid biasing it.

Recognizing Bias in the Way Output Is Used

It is a common error to assume that once the systems analyst has signed off on a system project, his or her impact is ended. Actually, the analysts influence is long -lasting. Much of the information on which organizational members base their decisions is determined by what analysts perceive is important to the business. Bias is present in everything that humans create. This statement is not to judge bias as bad, but to make the point that it is inseparable from what we (and consequently our systems) produce. The concerns of systems analysts are to avoid unnecessarily biasing output and to make users aware of the possible biases in the output they receive. Presentations of output are unintentionally biased in three main ways: 1. How information is sorted. 2. Setting of acceptable limits. 3. Choice of graphic

Avoiding Bias in the Design of Output

Systems analysts can use specific strategies to avoid biasing the output they and others design: 1. Be aware of the sources of bias. 2. Create an interactive design of output during prototyping that includes users and a variety of differently configured systems when testing the appearance of Web documents. 3. Work with users so that they are informed of the outputs biases and can recognize the implications of customizing their displays. 4. Create output that is flexible and that allows users to modify limits and ranges. 5. Train users to rely on multiple outputs for conducting reality tests on system output.

Designing Printed Output

Reports fall into three categories: detailed, exception, and summary. Detailed reports print a report line for every record on the master file. They are used for mailing to customers, sending student grade reports, printing catalogs, and so on. Inquiry screens have replaced many detailed reports. Exception reports print a line for all records that match a set of conditions, such as which holiday decorations will be discounted the day after the holiday or which students are on the deans list. They are usually used to help operational managers and clerical staff run a business. Summary reports print one line for a group of records and are used to make decisions, such as which items are not selling and which are hot selling.

Guidelines for Printed Report Design