A power user or an experienced user is a computer user who uses advanced features of computer hardware, operating systems, programs, or web sites which are not used by the average user. A power user may not have extensive technical knowledge of the systems they use and is not capable of computer programming or system administration, but is rather characterized by the competence or desire to make the most intensive use of computer programs or systems. In enterprise software systems, "Power User" may be a formal role given to an individual who is not a programmer, but who is a specialist in business software. Often these are people who retain their normal user job role, but also function in testing, training, and first-tier support of the enterprise software. Users may erroneously label themselves as power users when they are less than fully competent.
Some software applications are often regarded as being particularly suited for power users, and may even be designed as such, due to their inclusion of sophisticated function and feature sets not typically found in other comparable applications. Examples include VLC media player, a multimedia framework/player/server, which includes a complex, feature-rich, and highly customisable interface (and multiple interfaces moreover, beyond simple skinning) with numerous built-in capabilities not typically deemed useful or even understandable to users in the context of other media player suites such as Windows Media Player or iTunes; or running a Linux-based operating system, as Linux generally requires a better understanding of how it works in the event that something breaks or stops working.
Interface design issues
User testing for software often focuses on inexperienced or regular users. Power users can require different user interface elements compared to regular users, as they may need less help, and fewer cues. A typical example being short cut keys, like Ctrl+F or Alt+Enter. A power user might use a program full-time, compared to a casual or occasional users. Power users typically want to operate the software with few interactions, or as fast as possible. And also be able to perform a task in a precise way, where casual users may be happy if they are close enough.
SAP & Oracle
SAP and Oracle are well known enterprise systems which often require a complex set of training in order to gain professional certification. Because of this, and also to encourage engagement with the systems, many companies have created a "Super User Model" (also called Power User, Champion) in order to take regular users and raise them to a level of leadership within the system. Doing this accomplishes three objectives:
- More engaged use of the system as there is a personal face assigned to champion the system and make acceptance of the technology less challenging.
- A significant time and cost reduction as companies are not seeking or hiring new or temporary resources for the purposes of developing and/or delivering documentation, training, and support.
- ROI or proof of concept of the SAP investment should be more easily achieved as users are directly involved, thereby using the system invested in, which benefits the company overall.
Extensive research has been done with the Super User Model in SAP, specifically in regard to the role they take in training and supporting end users. Currently, more than 70% of SAP companies utilize a form of the Super User Model.
In Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional, and Windows Server 2003, there is a "Power Users" group on the system that gives more permissions than a normal restricted user, but stops short of Administrator permissions. If a user is a member of the Power Users group, he or she has greater chance of exposing the system to malware over a normal user and can promote their account to an Administrator by purposely installing malware. Thus, the Power Users group should be used with trustworthy and knowledgeable users only; it is not suitable to contain untrustworthy users. The Power Users group has been removed in Windows Vista as part of the consolidation of privilege elevation features in the introduction of User Account Control.
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- "Power Users' Guide". sap.com. Retrieved 2015-01-14.
- "Windows Confidential: Power to the Power User". microsoft.com. 2012. Retrieved 2015-01-14.
- In one 1997 study involving design testing of a web application, self-identified power users refused to read any instructions, made wrong guesses, and repeatedly became so lost they could not complete the test. Bruce Tognazzini. "Maximizing Windows". - 1997 date taken from the fact that the study and design (in the link) were all completed three days before the release of Netscape 4.0, an event which occurred in June of 1997.
- "Hands-on with Vivaldi, the new Web browser for power users".
- "How to master VLC, the ultimate Windows media player for power users". PCWorld. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
- Karn, Keith S., Thomas J. Perry, Marc J. Krolczyk (October 1997). "Testing for Power Usability". SIGCHI Bulletin. SIGCHI of the Association for Computing Machinery. 29 (4). Retrieved 2015-10-29.
- A member of the Power Users group may be able to gain administrator rights and permissions in Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, or Windows XP, Microsoft Knowledgebase
- What happened to the Power Users group?, Microsoft Windows Vista Help
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