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Rethinking the Term "Users"

Jul 27, 2007 • general

Josh Bernoff and Charlene LiJosh Bernoff wrote an intriguing post (titled "I'm sick of users") about why we should avoid the term "users." Josh says,

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?

Try, just for a day, to stop using this word. You'll be amazed at how differently you think about the world.

Web users become people looking for information.

Application users become employees trying to get stuff done.

Users of your Web site become customers.

I tend to agree. After reading the post, I was talking to someone who mentioned their "users," and I had to laugh a little. When I hear the term, I now think of a drug user or some other addictive person.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical communication — Swagger, agile, trends, learning, plain language, quick reference guides, tech comm careers, academics, and more. I'm interested in , API documentation, visual communication, information architecture and findability, and more. If you're a technical writer of any kind (progressional, transitioning, student), be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.