What to call The User?

21 Apr 2008 - 2:58pm
5 years ago
6 replies
362 reads
sylvania
2005

We prefer the terms "person" or "customer" when referring to people who use our software in general, but I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions for referring to them specifically?

For example, let's say you're offering two sets of information to customers, one set each for new and existing users. They could be labeled: "Info for new users" and "Info for existing users." The terms "people" and "customers" don't work here, because they're not new *people* and they could be existing customers, but new to this product.

I've been tossing this around in my head for a while and can't seem to come up with anything that works.

If anyone has suggestions, they'll be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,
Sylvania

User Experience Designer

Comments

21 Apr 2008 - 3:04pm
Susie Robson
2004

Well, right or wrong, we generally just say users. As in new users or
existing users or advanced users.

I've found over the years that "customer" may just mean the person who
purchased the products but does not use it.

However, that's all internal-speak. If you are exposing this to "users"
then I would actually try to not use any of that.

So, "Info for New Users" could become "Getting Started" or "Basic
Options" or something like that, while "Info for Existing Users" could
become "Advanced Options". Obviously I don't know your context but
basically, take out the people part of it and just label it what it is
not who it's for.

Just a thought.

Susie Robson

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Dye, Sylvania
Sent: Monday, April 21, 2008 3:58 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] What to call The User?

We prefer the terms "person" or "customer" when referring to people who
use our software in general, but I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions
for referring to them specifically?

For example, let's say you're offering two sets of information to
customers, one set each for new and existing users. They could be
labeled: "Info for new users" and "Info for existing users." The terms
"people" and "customers" don't work here, because they're not new
*people* and they could be existing customers, but new to this product.

I've been tossing this around in my head for a while and can't seem to
come up with anything that works.

If anyone has suggestions, they'll be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,
Sylvania

User Experience Designer
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21 Apr 2008 - 3:11pm
Pieter Jansegers
2008

I can't see the problem right away, could be me...

If you label your products R and S (for the new one S), you can address the
fast group as "R users" and the second as "(potential) S (interested)
users".

And when you stop promoting the R product, R users might be getting
interested in the S product as well. Whitout being pushed to do so, these
users realize the R product isn't discussed and showed anymore.

I have the impression Microsoft is using this right now Millenium, XP,
VISTA, ...

Pieter Jansegers
http://webosophy.ning.com

On 4/21/08, Dye, Sylvania <S.Dye at techsmith.com> wrote:
>
> We prefer the terms "person" or "customer" when referring to people who
> use our software in general, but I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions for
> referring to them specifically?
>
> For example, let's say you're offering two sets of information to
> customers, one set each for new and existing users. They could be labeled:
> "Info for new users" and "Info for existing users." The terms "people" and
> "customers" don't work here, because they're not new *people* and they could
> be existing customers, but new to this product.
>
> I've been tossing this around in my head for a while and can't seem to
> come up with anything that works.
>
> If anyone has suggestions, they'll be greatly appreciated!
>
> Thank you,
> Sylvania
>
> User Experience Designer
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

21 Apr 2008 - 3:15pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

I think that your idea is a good one Susie.

I've been listening (and struggling) with the "user" debate for years. I've
never been able to find another generic word that works consistently. So I
tend to do what you suggest which is to use the term "user" when writing
professionally and, when discussing or presenting to outsiders, I try to
find a term with a bit more warmth.

Sometimes I use "human," as in human-computer interaction or "human-centered
design" where it works and I want to avoid the term.

I will often use the term "visitor" for a web site -- perhaps "member" if
there is a sign-up.

But good old "user" has the grace to be grammatical in most every
circumstance.

Charlie
(always open, however, to a better choice)

============================
Charles B. Kreitzberg, Ph.D.
CEO, Cognetics Corporation
============================
.

21 Apr 2008 - 3:24pm
sylvania
2005

Abstracting the user, referring to the content instead, is a great suggestion - thanks, Susie!

Taking a conversational approach is good in some cases, too - in one case our buttons read "I'm new to X" and "I've used X before." We've encountered a scenario where we've felt a need to refer to the person directly, though - but maybe we can look at it differently and refer to the content there, too.

For Web, "guest," "visitor," or "member" all work - it does seem harder to find something suitable for desktop apps.

I'll step back and look at it from a content perspective.
Thanks, again!

Sylvania

User Experience Designer

21 Apr 2008 - 3:35pm
John Vaughan - ...
2004

Putting the YOU in User....

When I'm talking to you, I may as well use that syntax. If I'm giving
directions or otherwise informing you, I generally use the convenient,
casual and accessible "you"..... Fdor example:

"You just click on the button..."
"If you're a newbie / If you're experienced"
"You might want to check this out..."
et cetera

I believe that the informal "you" style makes any web System-Generated
Information (i.e. Help, Directions/Instructions or Notifications/Alerts)
*much* more readable. It's direct. Its's concise. It's immediate. There's
no abstraction.

It even works on Documentation. Just contextualize by identifying which
Role you're addressing. Value-added: by encouraging you (the documentation
reader) to put yourself "in the shoes" of several "user roles", we've helped
everyone to embrace the very essence of UxP.

Y'all have a good time now,
John

> We prefer the terms "person" or "customer" when referring to people who
> use our software in general, but I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions
> for referring to them specifically?
>
> For example, let's say you're offering two sets of information to
> customers, one set each for new and existing users. They could be labeled:
> "Info for new users" and "Info for existing users." The terms "people" and
> "customers" don't work here, because they're not new *people* and they
> could be existing customers, but new to this product.
>
> I've been tossing this around in my head for a while and can't seem to
> come up with anything that works.
>
> If anyone has suggestions, they'll be greatly appreciated!
>
> Thank you,
> Sylvania
>
> User Experience Designer
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

22 Apr 2008 - 2:37am
Itamar Medeiros
2006

This reminds me of a recent thread Morten Hjerde
(http://www.ixda.org/profile.php?id=mhjerde gmail.com) started on
"finding a gender-neutral singular pronoun"... the answer:
"YO"... check it out:

http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=27068

...
{ Itamar Medeiros } Information Designer
designing clear, understandable communication by
caring to structure, context, and presentation
of data and information

website ::: http://designative.info/
mobile ::: 86 13671503252
skype ::: designative

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=28306

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