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Adobe Robohelp

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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Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.