unsophisticated users

3 Jun 2008 - 1:15pm
6 years ago
10 replies
755 reads
Alla Zollers
2008

Hi Everyone --

I am having a bit of a terminology problem within my company. Most of the
product people and developers like to refer to our users as
"unsophisticated" (a euphemism for dumb). My understanding of the majority
of our users is that they are generally of a lower socio-economic level and
so don't have regular access or extensive experience online.

I mentioned this to the director of product and he asked me to come up with
a different terminology for our segment of users, as we wish to expand to
the more affluent and internet savvy segment.

I am not sure what would be a good terminology for our "unsophisticated"
users? Do you think personas would help in this situation?

Thank you!

Sincerely,
Alla

Comments

3 Jun 2008 - 5:39pm
Jeffrey D. Gimzek
2007

"web-challenged" ?

seriously though, try 'novice'

personas almost always help, IMHO

jd

On Jun 3, 2008, at 11:15 AM, Alla Zollers wrote:

> Hi Everyone --
>
> I am having a bit of a terminology problem within my company. Most
> of the
> product people and developers like to refer to our users as
> "unsophisticated" (a euphemism for dumb). My understanding of the
> majority
> of our users is that they are generally of a lower socio-economic
> level and
> so don't have regular access or extensive experience online.
>
> I mentioned this to the director of product and he asked me to come
> up with
> a different terminology for our segment of users, as we wish to
> expand to
> the more affluent and internet savvy segment.
>
> I am not sure what would be a good terminology for our
> "unsophisticated"
> users? Do you think personas would help in this situation?
>
> Thank you!

- -

Jeffrey D. Gimzek | Senior User Experience Designer

http://www.glassdoor.com

3 Jun 2008 - 5:47pm
Catriona Lohan-...
2007

this is an interesting option - depends on the context ;-)

http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1418715

There are many different types of computer users out there; here is a
list of the better known ones and descriptions on each.

Joe Sixpack - Owns a computer, but doesn't use it very often. Has
absolutely no idea how a computer works, and will call tech support
for the slightest abnormality. Generally annoys more knowledgable
users with questions that are answered plainly in the documentation.
Tech support receives calls from these users most often. Has an email
address, but checks it so seldomly you might as well call them on the
phone. Most Joe Sixpacks refuse to learn anything about their
computer because they are afraid of becoming geeks.

Compulsive Gamer - The compulsive gamer's only use for a computer is
to play games. All the time. They tend to be more knowledgable about
computers than Joe Sixpacks, but this is only because they spend so
much time using them. Depending on the type of game that Compulsive
Gamers play, they may be thoroughly obsessed with having the latest
and greatest hardware at all times, so they may also classify as a...

Hardware Addict - Spends 80% of their income upgrading their computer
hardware whenever any part is released that is more than 1% faster
than the part they currently own. Hardware Addicts are almost always
Compulsive Gamers, because games benefit the most from these constant
upgrades. Many hardware addicts own over a half-dozen computers that
they build from the parts they replace. Hardware Addicts are not
always financially well-off; these HA's will whine endlessly about
how they can't afford the latest new toy. Some Hardware Addicts take
things too far, and evolve (devolve?) into...

Computer Riceboys - Computer Riceboys have much in common with
regular ricers; the primary difference is they rice out computers
instead of cars. Their favorite past times are buying expensive cases
and modifying them to include windows, neon lights, stickers, an
excessive number of cooling fans, and sometimes even switches to turn
these fans on or off on the fly. They are usually hardware addicts,
but not always. Some Computer Riceboys will make their 486DX2/66 look
like something that belongs in a Sci-Fi movie, despite it being
slower than molasses.

OS Nazi - These individuals feel their operating system is the only
one that should be allowed to exist, and that all others should be
abolished. OS Nazis will rag on everyone that doesn't run their OS of
choice, as well as try to convert those who do run their OS of choice
into a fellow OS Nazi. Any criticism of their favorite OS usually
results in a baseless argument, and/or personal insults and shunning.

Media Pirate - If you removed all the abilities of a media pirate's
computer except downloading and playing audio and video files, they
wouldn't even notice. These people spend their entire lives trying to
acquire as much music and video as possible from the Internet. They
will never listen to 95% of what they acquire, and will always jump
when a friend offers to loan them a CD so they can rip it and add it
to their collection. Even if they don't like the group. These guys
practically keep hard drive manufacturers afloat. Closely related to
the WaReZ d00d.

WaReZ d00d - j00 g0t ne appz d00d? w1ll tr8d j00.. n33d 0 d at y w at r3z...

Walking Encyclopedia - The Walking Encyclopedia will attempt to learn
every tiny insignificant detail about thier platform of choice, and
will bring up those details in normal conversation as often as
possible. They will also become furious if someone disputes one of
their cherished "facts". Many WE's will also extend this to other
fields.

Obsessed Microsoft Hater - Obsessed Microsoft Haters will take every
opportunity to bash Microsoft and its products, even if Microsoft
isn't the subject of discussion. Many OMH's will try to back their
claims of MS Evil-ness with vague, unsubstantiated arguments like
"Bill Gates is gay" or "Cuz it crashes." A large percentage of these
individuals actually run Microsoft operating systems and thus don't
really qualify as OS Nazis.

The Jaded Ones - The Jaded Ones are users that have been in the
industry so long that nothing impresses them anymore. They usually
like several platforms and operating systems equally, and their
computers tend to be several years old. Many Jaded Ones own several
systems, and are opposed to change in the industry.

Windows Weenie - Someone who loves Microsoft Windows and refuses to
learn anything else because they think it's "too hard". Usually more
knowledgable than Joe Sixpacks, but confines that knowledge to the
Microsoft world.

Nostalgic Old Timers - These folks would do anything to go back in
time and re-live the "good old days". Mention an Apple II, a VAX, or
a C64 and they will tell you many stories of their experiences with
those platforms. Nostalgic Old Timers tend to collect lots of old,
esoteric hardware and like to keep it in working condition. There is
much overlap between this group and The Jaded Ones, since they both
have been in the industry for a long time.

Hopeless Malcontent - Nothing will satisfy the hopeless malcontent.
They will complain about everything until the end of time. It doesn't
matter how trivial something is; they will bitch about it and bitch
with enthusiasm. Some of them even hate the computer industry as a
whole, only sticking around because they are well paid and it's where
they are skilled. It is extremely difficult to impress a hopeless
malcontent because they almost always wish they were somewhere else.
Jaded Ones tend to become hopeless malcontents toward the end of
their careers.

__________________________
Catríona Lohan-Conway
User Experience Architect
917 405 5127
clohanconway at mac.com

3 Jun 2008 - 5:59pm
Sarah Kampman
2008

There's nothing necessarily wrong with the term "unsophisticated,"
though "new" or "novice" might be more neutral. However, it sounds as if
the developers & product folks in your organization have a specific
perception of the typical end-user that no new phrase is going to
change. If it's important to build empathy within your organization for
this group of end users (and it usually is), then there's more to it
than simply changing the name.

There's a long history of changing the names of negatively perceived
groups that has no effect on the negative perception -- the negativity
eventually infiltrates the new name and you're stuck where you were
before. The only solution is to address the perception itself.

-Sarah

-----Original Message-----
I am having a bit of a terminology problem within my company. Most of
the product people and developers like to refer to our users as
"unsophisticated" (a euphemism for dumb). My understanding of the
majority of our users is that they are generally of a lower
socio-economic level and so don't have regular access or extensive
experience online.

I mentioned this to the director of product and he asked me to come up
with a different terminology for our segment of users, as we wish to
expand to the more affluent and internet savvy segment.

3 Jun 2008 - 6:03pm
Katie Albers
2005

Naive? It's used fairly often in a variety of contexts to describe
any group of people who are unacquainted with the basics of whatever
you are discussing.

At 11:15 AM -0700 6/3/08, Alla Zollers wrote:
>Hi Everyone --
>
>I am having a bit of a terminology problem within my company. Most of the
>product people and developers like to refer to our users as
>"unsophisticated" (a euphemism for dumb). My understanding of the majority
>of our users is that they are generally of a lower socio-economic level and
>so don't have regular access or extensive experience online.
>
>I mentioned this to the director of product and he asked me to come up with
>a different terminology for our segment of users, as we wish to expand to
>the more affluent and internet savvy segment.
>
>I am not sure what would be a good terminology for our "unsophisticated"
>users? Do you think personas would help in this situation?
>
>Thank you!
>
>Sincerely,
>Alla

--

----------------
Katie Albers
katie at firstthought.com

3 Jun 2008 - 6:05pm
Becky Reed
2008

Alla,

We go by the factors that contribute to the understanding and usage of
our products (interviewing for personas, measuring in usability testing,
etc.) to *hopefully* avoid the negative labeling:
1. Levels of technical literacy (both web and computer - separately)
2. Literacy level (reading level)
3. Health literacy (industry specific measure)

So we call our broad, blanket groups would be like "low lit", "low
technical lit", and "low health lit" OR "high literacy", "high technical
literacy", etc. -- you get the idea, but we've matrix'd the quantitative
permutations and added qualitative information around them based them on
persona interviews and usability tested our products to confirm that
they meet them.

Becky Reed
IxD, Healthwise

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Alla Zollers
Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2008 12:15 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] unsophisticated users

Hi Everyone --

I am having a bit of a terminology problem within my company. Most of
the
product people and developers like to refer to our users as
"unsophisticated" (a euphemism for dumb). My understanding of the
majority
of our users is that they are generally of a lower socio-economic level
and
so don't have regular access or extensive experience online.

I mentioned this to the director of product and he asked me to come up
with
a different terminology for our segment of users, as we wish to expand
to
the more affluent and internet savvy segment.

I am not sure what would be a good terminology for our "unsophisticated"
users? Do you think personas would help in this situation?

Thank you!

Sincerely,
Alla
________________________________________________________________
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To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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3 Jun 2008 - 7:38pm
Tim Goldsmith
2008

I have used 'novice'

--- On Tue, 6/3/08, Katie Albers <katie at firstthought.com> wrote:

From: Katie Albers <katie at firstthought.com>
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] unsophisticated users
To: "Alla Zollers" <agenkina at ucla.edu>, discuss at ixda.org
Date: Tuesday, June 3, 2008, 4:03 PM

Naive? It's used fairly often in a variety of contexts to describe
any group of people who are unacquainted with the basics of whatever
you are discussing.

At 11:15 AM -0700 6/3/08, Alla Zollers wrote:
>Hi Everyone --
>
>I am having a bit of a terminology problem within my company. Most of the
>product people and developers like to refer to our users as
>"unsophisticated" (a euphemism for dumb). My understanding of the
majority
>of our users is that they are generally of a lower socio-economic level and
>so don't have regular access or extensive experience online.
>
>I mentioned this to the director of product and he asked me to come up with
>a different terminology for our segment of users, as we wish to expand to
>the more affluent and internet savvy segment.
>
>I am not sure what would be a good terminology for our
"unsophisticated"
>users? Do you think personas would help in this situation?
>
>Thank you!
>
>Sincerely,
>Alla

--

----------------
Katie Albers
katie at firstthought.com
________________________________________________________________
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
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3 Jun 2008 - 7:59pm
Itamar Medeiros
2006

I personally think that, in the end of the day, is not just about just
being "politically correct" when talking about the users (well...
being respectful and polite is always nice!), but also about
communicating clearly their background, needs and intentions.

I'd go with Becky "checklist" to start, especially the first 2
items:

1. Levels of technical literacy (both web and computer - separately)

2. Literacy level (reading level)

That being said, it would all be relative to the task at hand: a
Physics PhD could be considered "technically illiterate" on real
estate market (poor analogy, I know!)

Which brings me to this really interesting article I read recently:
"Understanding Non-Literacy as a Barrier to Mobile Phone
Communication", from Nokia Research Center:

* Emerging markets have higher numbers of textually non-literate
people than more developed markets
* Effective use of mobile phone features requires an
understanding of textual prompts
* Contact management and asynchronous communication in particular
presents challenges for textually non-literate people
* Solutions can be categorized as improvements to the phone, the
ecosystem and to the operator infrastructure

Read the full article at:
http://research.nokia.com/bluesky/non-literacy-001-2005/index.html

...
{ Itamar Medeiros } Information Designer
http://designative.info/
http://www.autodesk.com/

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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4 Jun 2008 - 4:11am
Alexis Brion
2007

Hi,

I don't like "unsophisticated" at all, sounds negative to the
person. Maybe users don't have experience using a particular
application but that does not mean that they are "unsophisticated".

"Novice" and "unexperienced" sounds much better to me...

Alex

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=29779

4 Jun 2008 - 12:31pm
Alla Zollers
2008

Thanks everyone!

I think I am going to suggest that my director of product describe
our users in terms of different levels of literacy as well as perhaps
create a few cool descriptions like Catriona mentioned to help us talk
about them in short hand.

I also agree that I am need to build empathy within the company. This
is especially true for me because I am the first UX person they have
hired - ever. The company has never really thought about the users or
their experience, they have been mainly technology driven. On that
note, can anyone suggest any empathy exercises I could perhaps do
with me team?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=29779

4 Jun 2008 - 5:02pm
Becky Reed
2008

My best guess is to let them observe representative users use their
product. Stereotyping becomes a lot harder when you are thinking about
the real people you watched.

We've made watching usability test sessions a fun company event
(separate observation room through Morae)...we send out invites and
people attend as their schedule permits...just watching short sessions
with real people use our products has been an asset to our writers,
engineers, product people...everyone. After awhile of doing this, you'd
walk into people on the observation deck cheer the users on and talking
to the monitors ("come on...over there over there!") when the user was
close but not getting it...

When they watch someone who reminds them of their dad, grandmother, etc.
using THEIR product and having issues not because they are "stupid", but
because the product doesn't lend itself to the user's experience, some
real impetus to find solution to THE PRODUCT for <insert real human
being> evolves. People leave feeling bad for the guy that was one click
away from what he needed and had spent a couple minutes talking about in
the beginning.

You said you were after the folks opposite to "unsophisticated", so one
wonders if "give me testing budget for folks outside our target market"
will really fly, but perhaps grab the fence folks so you are at the edge
of your target market.

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Alla Zollers
Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2008 4:31 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] unsophisticated users

Thanks everyone!

I think I am going to suggest that my director of product describe
our users in terms of different levels of literacy as well as perhaps
create a few cool descriptions like Catriona mentioned to help us talk
about them in short hand.

I also agree that I am need to build empathy within the company. This
is especially true for me because I am the first UX person they have
hired - ever. The company has never really thought about the users or
their experience, they have been mainly technology driven. On that
note, can anyone suggest any empathy exercises I could perhaps do
with me team?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=29779

________________________________________________________________
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

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