Here we go again. Can't we just call people PEOPLE? This time it's Josh Bernoff of Forrester. He says:
"When I started in the business twenty-mumble years ago, writing software manuals, people who used software were unusual (and had to be masochists). We spent a lot of time talking about users. The word user was helpful -- it helped us to keep in mind that there was a poor slob on the other end of what we were building.
Those times are long gone. We know users are important now. Disappoint them and you lose. So why do we still have to call them "users," which puts the emphasis on the technology they are using?
Yes, I know "users are people, too." But you know what? All people are users now! (With nearly 80% Net penetration in the US this is pretty close to true.) Users put up with computers. People just do stuff.
Nobody talks about users of dishwashers, or users of retail stores, or users of telephones. So why are we talking about "users" of computers, browsers, and software?"
I'm all for "humanizing the experience"—but guess what? Sometimes labels help us to design better solutions, products and experiences for the PEOPLE who we serve who USE the stuff we develop for them. USERS. Some related thoughts below:
Originally posted on July 2006
When is a person more than just a person? If you want to design for people, don’t be afraid to “label” them. When used correctly, labels clarify and add context. They tell us what is important and what takes priority. An individual balancing their checkbook online is USING technology to complete a task—so they can do other things that are important (like putting the kids to bed). Someone listening to a podcast is part of an AUDIENCE consisting of likeminded people who share a common interest.
A person who decides to create their own online Ad after seeing what others have done is an active PARTICIPANT. Someone who engages in the social media network is part of a larger COMMUNITY. People who spend their money online or in the real world are CUSTOMERS. And when we partake in an economy where goods and services are bought, sold and exchanged then we become CONSUMERS—in addition to PEOPLE.
Labels help. Labels help us remember what’s important. Designing an interface that is useful and usable makes for a happy user. Happy users make happy people. And happy people tell good stories about your brand to others.