TechCrunch defends the life of the "user"

27 Jul 2007 - 2:05pm
6 years ago
50 replies
864 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/27/long-live-the-user/

In a recent post the folks at TechCrunch talk about how many want to
kill off the "user", or at least the word describing it.

one person says that people are users if they use a Dishwasher, then
why a computer. Thomas Vander Wal says that the term is
degrading/dehumanizing.

The author Duncan Riley, likes the term and proudly identifies.

I'm not interested in a semantic debate here at all.
I just find it interesting that a start-up Web 2.0 focused profit-blog
which really never talks about these types of issues, feels the need
to talk about this.

is there some great relevance I'm missing? I mean Thomas, are we
really THAT stupid that we can't tell that the people we call users
are users? Is it any worse than the term subject, participant,
patient, etc. that people use to distance themselves from our fellow
human beings?

I have seen the trend to say "human experience design" attempted by a
few, but I really don't think all that differently about it when I
hear that vs. user experience.

anyway, barely interesting.

-- dave

--
David Malouf
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/
http://motorola.com/

Comments

27 Jul 2007 - 2:18pm
Mark Schraad
2006

'User' is a perfectly acceptable term in the back halls of design and development - and it is totally appropriate for application development. But it is not a particularly user friendly term when addressing the user directly. We have a current debate (current only because I won't let it go) in determing language for link to the ratings and reviews section of a portal. I was over-ruled and the link is labeled 'user reviews' as opposed to 'owner reviews'. The deciding vote was that 'user' ranked higher in search.

I like calling them consumers when appropriate - but that is mostly in conversations with the business execs and advertisers. I believe that consumers allows for a bit more compassion from those not invested. But you are right Dave, odd that TC is discussing it, and sort of a hair splitting exercise.

Mark

On Friday, July 27, 2007, at 03:06PM, "David Malouf" <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:
>http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/27/long-live-the-user/
>
>In a recent post the folks at TechCrunch talk about how many want to
>kill off the "user", or at least the word describing it.
>
>one person says that people are users if they use a Dishwasher, then
>why a computer. Thomas Vander Wal says that the term is
>degrading/dehumanizing.
>
>The author Duncan Riley, likes the term and proudly identifies.
>
>I'm not interested in a semantic debate here at all.
>I just find it interesting that a start-up Web 2.0 focused profit-blog
>which really never talks about these types of issues, feels the need
>to talk about this.
>
>is there some great relevance I'm missing? I mean Thomas, are we
>really THAT stupid that we can't tell that the people we call users
>are users? Is it any worse than the term subject, participant,
>patient, etc. that people use to distance themselves from our fellow
>human beings?
>
>I have seen the trend to say "human experience design" attempted by a
>few, but I really don't think all that differently about it when I
>hear that vs. user experience.
>
>anyway, barely interesting.
>
>-- dave

27 Jul 2007 - 2:21pm
LukeW
2004

I try hard to say "people" instead of "user" in the absence of domain
specific audiences like "patients", "doctors", etc. I actually swung
180 degrees on this and used to think "user" was a fine term. My
primary reason for changing is there's so much more going on beyond
"use" because we are complex entities. Usage is part of our
motivation, capacity, and mental focus- but the palette is much
richer. Focusing on "users" deliberately or inadvertently causes you
to dismiss a lot of that richness. That's great when testing
usability but not so good when designing experiences. People do more
than "use" experiences.

-just my 2¢

On Jul 27, 2007, at 12:05 PM, David Malouf wrote:

> is there some great relevance I'm missing? I mean Thomas, are we
> really THAT stupid that we can't tell that the people we call users
> are users? Is it any worse than the term subject, participant,
> patient, etc. that people use to distance themselves from our fellow
> human beings?
>
> I have seen the trend to say "human experience design" attempted by a
> few, but I really don't think all that differently about it when I
> hear that vs. user experience.

27 Jul 2007 - 2:26pm
Mark Schraad
2006

On Friday, July 27, 2007, at 03:22PM, "LukeW" <luke at lukew.com> wrote:

That's great when testing
>usability but not so good when designing experiences. People do more
>than "use" experiences.

Great distinction Luke... user interface, but consumer experience...

Mark

27 Jul 2007 - 2:42pm
Christopher Fahey
2005

LukeW wrote:
> I try hard to say "people" instead of "user" in the absence
> of domain specific audiences like "patients", "doctors", etc.
> I actually swung 180 degrees on this and used to think "user"
> was a fine term. My primary reason for changing is there's so
> much more going on beyond "use" because we are complex
> entities.

Why have one word? Why not just use the right word for the right
context? Even when there is no domain specificity, there is almost
always *engagement specificity*.

When we talk about a person who is using something, it should be fine to
call them users. When we talk about them reading, we call them readers.
When we talk about them buying, we call them customers. When they play
games, they are players. When they upload videos, they are contributors.
Etc.

The term we use to describe the people who we engage with our products
can change from moment to moment, and in our documentation we can and
should constantly switch our nomenclature to suit the exact context. For
example, a single site may have "readers" in the content area, but
"customers" in the e-commerce area.

The fact that we are at all times dealing with "people" is (in most
cases) a given. A lot more can be said about their *mode of engagement*
when we get more specific with our terminology.

I'm still fine, however, with "user" when speaking in a general sense
about interactions with systems. And also please note that some people
who are engaged by a product or a brand are not, in fact, users at all.

-Cf

Christopher Fahey
____________________________
Behavior
http://www.behaviordesign.com
me: http://www.graphpaper.com

27 Jul 2007 - 2:48pm
SemanticWill
2007

My 2 cents - for what it's worth?

I hate the term user - and have for a while - ever since I heard the joke
about only software and illegal drug industries refer to their customers
that way.

Even better - start referring to the people that interact with our stuff by
their name - in their PERSONA - since we are all creating and using personas
anyway, let's step away from 3rd person, impersonal objectification of our
customer base, and bring it back to real people, with names, dreams, needs,
using our stuff to enhance the quality of their lives.

Of course, I will still use the term 'user' because it's deeply embedded in
my psyche, but I am trying real hard to change.

~will

On 7/27/07, Christopher Fahey <chris.fahey at behaviordesign.com> wrote:
>
> LukeW wrote:
> > I try hard to say "people" instead of "user" in the absence
> > of domain specific audiences like "patients", "doctors", etc.
> > I actually swung 180 degrees on this and used to think "user"
> > was a fine term. My primary reason for changing is there's so
> > much more going on beyond "use" because we are complex
> > entities.
>
> Why have one word? Why not just use the right word for the right
> context? Even when there is no domain specificity, there is almost
> always *engagement specificity*.
>
> When we talk about a person who is using something, it should be fine to
> call them users. When we talk about them reading, we call them readers.
> When we talk about them buying, we call them customers. When they play
> games, they are players. When they upload videos, they are contributors.
> Etc.
>
> The term we use to describe the people who we engage with our products
> can change from moment to moment, and in our documentation we can and
> should constantly switch our nomenclature to suit the exact context. For
> example, a single site may have "readers" in the content area, but
> "customers" in the e-commerce area.
>
> The fact that we are at all times dealing with "people" is (in most
> cases) a given. A lot more can be said about their *mode of engagement*
> when we get more specific with our terminology.
>
> I'm still fine, however, with "user" when speaking in a general sense
> about interactions with systems. And also please note that some people
> who are engaged by a product or a brand are not, in fact, users at all.
>
> -Cf
>
> Christopher Fahey
> ____________________________
> Behavior
> http://www.behaviordesign.com
> me: http://www.graphpaper.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

-------------------------------------

27 Jul 2007 - 3:12pm
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

Librarians use the term "user" heavily. They do it to put a certain
distance between themselves and any user in the hope that they'll treat
any user fairly wether they like him/her or not. I get the impression
that it's a way to spread the love around.

On the other hand, when I read software texts with the term "user" in
it I get the impression that the term "user" is employed to soften the
disdain all developers have for people who can't write code.

--- W Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com> a écrit :

> My 2 cents - for what it's worth?
>
> I hate the term user - and have for a while - ever since I heard the
> joke
> about only software and illegal drug industries refer to their
> customers
> that way.
>
> Even better - start referring to the people that interact with our
> stuff by
> their name - in their PERSONA - since we are all creating and using
> personas
> anyway, let's step away from 3rd person, impersonal objectification
> of our
> customer base, and bring it back to real people, with names, dreams,
> needs,
> using our stuff to enhance the quality of their lives.
>
> Of course, I will still use the term 'user' because it's deeply
> embedded in
> my psyche, but I am trying real hard to change.
>
> ~will
>
> On 7/27/07, Christopher Fahey <chris.fahey at behaviordesign.com> wrote:
> >
> > LukeW wrote:
> > > I try hard to say "people" instead of "user" in the absence
> > > of domain specific audiences like "patients", "doctors", etc.
> > > I actually swung 180 degrees on this and used to think "user"
> > > was a fine term. My primary reason for changing is there's so
> > > much more going on beyond "use" because we are complex
> > > entities.
> >
> > Why have one word? Why not just use the right word for the right
> > context? Even when there is no domain specificity, there is almost
> > always *engagement specificity*.
> >
> > When we talk about a person who is using something, it should be
> fine to
> > call them users. When we talk about them reading, we call them
> readers.
> > When we talk about them buying, we call them customers. When they
> play
> > games, they are players. When they upload videos, they are
> contributors.
> > Etc.
> >
> > The term we use to describe the people who we engage with our
> products
> > can change from moment to moment, and in our documentation we can
> and
> > should constantly switch our nomenclature to suit the exact
> context. For
> > example, a single site may have "readers" in the content area, but
> > "customers" in the e-commerce area.
> >
> > The fact that we are at all times dealing with "people" is (in most
> > cases) a given. A lot more can be said about their *mode of
> engagement*
> > when we get more specific with our terminology.
> >
> > I'm still fine, however, with "user" when speaking in a general
> sense
> > about interactions with systems. And also please note that some
> people
> > who are engaged by a product or a brand are not, in fact, users at
> all.
> >
> > -Cf
> >
> > Christopher Fahey
> > ____________________________
> > Behavior
> > http://www.behaviordesign.com
> > me: http://www.graphpaper.com
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
> >
>
> -------------------------------------
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

Combattez les méchants pourriels... Le filtre SpamGuard vous aide à lutter efficacement contre les pourriels sur le Tout-nouveau Yahoo! Courriel

http://us.rd.yahoo.com/evt=40705/*http://mrd.mail.yahoo.com/try_beta?.intl=cf

27 Jul 2007 - 3:12pm
Phillip Hunter
2006

> I try hard to say "people" instead of "user" in the absence of domain
> specific audiences like "patients", "doctors", etc

> I have seen the trend to say "human experience design" attempted by a
> few, but I really don't think all that differently about it when I
> hear that vs. user experience.

I tend to think this is sort of an important discussion, as is any where we
might see or feel the need to wake ourselves back up to real people,
especially those who interact with our creations. In my part of this field,
we try to name these people "person" or "caller". They are not "users" in
the sense of choosing to use our product like they choose to use a
screwdriver or a car. But they are definitely calling and for a specific
reason. So "caller" makes more sense. Of course we can become jaded to
even that, but it helps us a little anyway.

I think it's also important to consider whether using a different term helps
all of us design better rather than simply considering personal preference
or benefit.

ph

27 Jul 2007 - 3:19pm
Stacy Felish
2007

I think it's also important to consider whether using a different term helps
all of us design better rather than simply considering personal preference
or benefit.

When designing for a subscription service, we deliberately used the term Member instead of User. It helped remind us that these aren't causual passer-bys -- these are people paying to come here.

:)

Stacy Felish

-----Original Message-----
From: Phillip Hunter <phillip at speechcycle.com>
To: 'IxDA Discuss' <discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
Sent: Fri, 27 Jul 2007 3:12 pm
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] TechCrunch defends the life of the "user"

> I try hard to say "people" instead of "user" in the absence of domain
> specific audiences like "patients", "doctors", etc

> I have seen the trend to say "human experience design" attempted by a
> few, but I really don't think all that differently about it when I
> hear that vs. user experience.

I tend to think this is sort of an important discussion, as is any where we
might see or feel the need to wake ourselves back up to real people,
especially those who interact with our creations. In my part of this field,
we try to name these people "person" or "caller". They are not "users" in
the sense of choosing to use our product like they choose to use a
screwdriver or a car. But they are definitely calling and for a specific
reason. So "caller" makes more sense. Of course we can become jaded to
even that, but it helps us a little anyway.

I think it's also important to consider whether using a different term helps
all of us design better rather than simply considering personal preference
or benefit.

ph

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

________________________________________________________________________
Check Out the new free AIM(R) Mail -- Unlimited storage and industry-leading spam and email virus protection.

27 Jul 2007 - 4:36pm
Katie Albers
2005

I generally like to call them "customers" -- just so
that folks remember that's where the money comes from.

Also, in the design and development areas, I've dealt
with way too many groups where they still think of the
stakeholders as the users, and I find that talking
about the customers cuts through that confusion.

Of course, I'm not sure how that would perform in a
search...

Katie

--- Mark Schraad <mschraad at mac.com> wrote:

> 'User' is a perfectly acceptable term in the back
> halls of design and development - and it is totally
> appropriate for application development. But it is
> not a particularly user friendly term when
> addressing the user directly. We have a current
> debate (current only because I won't let it go) in
> determing language for link to the ratings and
> reviews section of a portal. I was over-ruled and
> the link is labeled 'user reviews' as opposed to
> 'owner reviews'. The deciding vote was that 'user'
> ranked higher in search.
>
> I like calling them consumers when appropriate - but
> that is mostly in conversations with the business
> execs and advertisers. I believe that consumers
> allows for a bit more compassion from those not
> invested. But you are right Dave, odd that TC is
> discussing it, and sort of a hair splitting
> exercise.
>
> Mark
>
>
> On Friday, July 27, 2007, at 03:06PM, "David Malouf"
> <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/27/long-live-the-user/
> >
> >In a recent post the folks at TechCrunch talk about
> how many want to
> >kill off the "user", or at least the word
> describing it.
> >
> >one person says that people are users if they use a
> Dishwasher, then
> >why a computer. Thomas Vander Wal says that the
> term is
> >degrading/dehumanizing.
> >
> >The author Duncan Riley, likes the term and proudly
> identifies.
> >
> >I'm not interested in a semantic debate here at
> all.
> >I just find it interesting that a start-up Web 2.0
> focused profit-blog
> >which really never talks about these types of
> issues, feels the need
> >to talk about this.
> >
> >is there some great relevance I'm missing? I mean
> Thomas, are we
> >really THAT stupid that we can't tell that the
> people we call users
> >are users? Is it any worse than the term subject,
> participant,
> >patient, etc. that people use to distance
> themselves from our fellow
> >human beings?
> >
> >I have seen the trend to say "human experience
> design" attempted by a
> >few, but I really don't think all that differently
> about it when I
> >hear that vs. user experience.
> >
> >anyway, barely interesting.
> >
> >-- dave
>
________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association
> (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............
> http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help ..................
> http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................
> http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>
>

____________________________________________________________________________________
Choose the right car based on your needs. Check out Yahoo! Autos new Car Finder tool.
http://autos.yahoo.com/carfinder/

27 Jul 2007 - 4:39pm
Katie Albers
2005

--- W Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com> wrote:

> My 2 cents - for what it's worth?
>
> I hate the term user - and have for a while - ever
> since I heard the joke
> about only software and illegal drug industries
> refer to their customers
> that way.

I'm with you there...

> Even better - start referring to the people that
> interact with our stuff by
> their name - in their PERSONA - since we are all
> creating and using personas
> anyway,

We are?

Katie

____________________________________________________________________________________
Got a little couch potato?
Check out fun summer activities for kids.
http://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=oni_on_mail&p=summer+activities+for+kids&cs=bz

27 Jul 2007 - 4:50pm
Anonymous

Hi,

A word to add in the discussion: "interactor"

Active in French-speaking Europe, some of us use the word
"interacteurs", which would roughly translate into "interactors" -
those who interact

Best,

Alok b. NANDI
http://design.architempo.net
http://pechakucha.architempo.net
http://www.aloknandi.net

At 22:19 27/07/2007, kiddfelish at aim.com wrote:

>I think it's also important to consider whether using a different term helps
>all of us design better rather than simply considering personal preference
>or benefit.
>
>
>
>When designing for a subscription service, we deliberately used the
>term Member instead of User. It helped remind us that these aren't
>causual passer-bys -- these are people paying to come here.
>
>:)
>
>Stacy Felish
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Phillip Hunter <phillip at speechcycle.com>
>To: 'IxDA Discuss' <discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
>Sent: Fri, 27 Jul 2007 3:12 pm
>Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] TechCrunch defends the life of the "user"
>
>
>
> > I try hard to say "people" instead of "user" in the absence of domain
> > specific audiences like "patients", "doctors", etc
>
> > I have seen the trend to say "human experience design" attempted by a
> > few, but I really don't think all that differently about it when I
> > hear that vs. user experience.
>
>I tend to think this is sort of an important discussion, as is any where we
>might see or feel the need to wake ourselves back up to real people,
>especially those who interact with our creations. In my part of this field,
>we try to name these people "person" or "caller". They are not "users" in
>the sense of choosing to use our product like they choose to use a
>screwdriver or a car. But they are definitely calling and for a specific
>reason. So "caller" makes more sense. Of course we can become jaded to
>even that, but it helps us a little anyway.
>
>I think it's also important to consider whether using a different term helps
>all of us design better rather than simply considering personal preference
>or benefit.
>
>ph
>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
>List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
>Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>Questions .................. list at ixda.org
>Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>
>
>________________________________________________________________________
>Check Out the new free AIM(R) Mail -- Unlimited storage and
>industry-leading spam and email virus protection.
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
>List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
>Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>Questions .................. list at ixda.org
>Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

27 Jul 2007 - 4:53pm
Anonymous

Hi,

A word to add in the discussion: "interactor"

Active in French-speaking Europe, some of us use the word
"interacteurs", which would roughly translate into "interactors"
- those who interact

Best,

Alok b. NANDI
http://design.architempo.net
http://pechakucha.architempo.net
http://www.aloknandi.net

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18748

27 Jul 2007 - 4:57pm
Thomas Vander Wal
2004

On 7/27/07, David Malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:
> http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/27/long-live-the-user/
>
> In a recent post the folks at TechCrunch talk about how many want to
> kill off the "user", or at least the word describing it.
>
> one person says that people are users if they use a Dishwasher, then
> why a computer. Thomas Vander Wal says that the term is
> degrading/dehumanizing.

I don't think it is a degrading term, but it really is dehumanizing.
Nearly every design and development group I have worked with in the
last 10 years has used the term with out any empathy of the person
behind the term. Design without empathy is really poor design.
Development with out understanding the technology pain a person is
suffering, which normally can be mitigated (often the development is
aimed at removing some technology pain to begin with). Additionally,
far too many things get blamed on the user and it has become a term of
pain for designers and developers (the users just don't get it).

Most people at the edges of design and development around technology
do not have a problem with the term user. As soon as you talk with
people actually doing real work designing and developing digital
products they completely understand and agree.

A pundit, Duncan Reilly, saying user is a fine term tells me more
about what he has done in the trenches, little to nothing. This is
fine, but it is good to understand the person making a claim.

All the best,
Thomas

27 Jul 2007 - 4:59pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I hate the term user - and have for a while - ever since I heard the joke
> about only software and illegal drug industries refer to their customers
> that way.

Following this logic, we should call them "junkies".

> Even better - start referring to the people that interact with our stuff by
> their name - in their PERSONA

So now we have to have a persona before we can reference any sort of
person whatsoever? It'll be weeks into a process before a single idea
can be written down.

I heard someone from Microsoft once refer to users as "Mort". He just
replaced "user"
with "Mort" in every case. "Mort would do this, Mort would do that."

I thought it was a pretty terrible replacement. Especially since I
don't think the term needs replacing.

-r-

27 Jul 2007 - 5:00pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Having been in the enterprise world way too long, I have learned that
the people who buy are not often the people that use these products
and services.

I like the distinction that look is making. But inalmost every
scenario I can think of in my career that is a person doing something
that creates that experience.

David Malouf
dave at synapticburn.com
http://synapticburn.com
http://ixda.org
Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 27, 2007, at 5:36 PM, Katie Albers <katie_albers at yahoo.com>
wrote:

> I generally like to call them "customers" -- just so
> that folks remember that's where the money comes from.
>
>
> Also, in the design and development areas, I've dealt
> with way too many groups where they still think of the
> stakeholders as the users, and I find that talking
> about the customers cuts through that confusion.
>
> Of course, I'm not sure how that would perform in a
> search...
>
> Katie
>
> --- Mark Schraad <mschraad at mac.com> wrote:
>
>> 'User' is a perfectly acceptable term in the back
>> halls of design and development - and it is totally
>> appropriate for application development. But it is
>> not a particularly user friendly term when
>> addressing the user directly. We have a current
>> debate (current only because I won't let it go) in
>> determing language for link to the ratings and
>> reviews section of a portal. I was over-ruled and
>> the link is labeled 'user reviews' as opposed to
>> 'owner reviews'. The deciding vote was that 'user'
>> ranked higher in search.
>>
>> I like calling them consumers when appropriate - but
>> that is mostly in conversations with the business
>> execs and advertisers. I believe that consumers
>> allows for a bit more compassion from those not
>> invested. But you are right Dave, odd that TC is
>> discussing it, and sort of a hair splitting
>> exercise.
>>
>> Mark
>>
>>
>> On Friday, July 27, 2007, at 03:06PM, "David Malouf"
>> <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/27/long-live-the-user/
>>>
>>> In a recent post the folks at TechCrunch talk about
>> how many want to
>>> kill off the "user", or at least the word
>> describing it.
>>>
>>> one person says that people are users if they use a
>> Dishwasher, then
>>> why a computer. Thomas Vander Wal says that the
>> term is
>>> degrading/dehumanizing.
>>>
>>> The author Duncan Riley, likes the term and proudly
>> identifies.
>>>
>>> I'm not interested in a semantic debate here at
>> all.
>>> I just find it interesting that a start-up Web 2.0
>> focused profit-blog
>>> which really never talks about these types of
>> issues, feels the need
>>> to talk about this.
>>>
>>> is there some great relevance I'm missing? I mean
>> Thomas, are we
>>> really THAT stupid that we can't tell that the
>> people we call users
>>> are users? Is it any worse than the term subject,
>> participant,
>>> patient, etc. that people use to distance
>> themselves from our fellow
>>> human beings?
>>>
>>> I have seen the trend to say "human experience
>> design" attempted by a
>>> few, but I really don't think all that differently
>> about it when I
>>> hear that vs. user experience.
>>>
>>> anyway, barely interesting.
>>>
>>> -- dave
>>
> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association
>> (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> List Guidelines ............
>> http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
>> List Help ..................
>> http://beta.ixda.org/help
>> Unsubscribe ................
>> http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
>> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>>
>>
>
>
>
>
> ____________________________________________________________________________________

> Choose the right car based on your needs. Check out Yahoo! Autos
> new Car Finder tool.
> http://autos.yahoo.com/carfinder/

27 Jul 2007 - 5:01pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> Librarians use the term "user" heavily.

They do? I'm married to one of those pesky librarians, and she always
refers to them as either customers or patrons.

Are you talking about librarians who operate in a technical context as
opposed to in-person librarian/patron relationships?

-r-

27 Jul 2007 - 5:03pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> > since we are all
> > creating and using personas
> > anyway,
>
> We are?

Hehehehe ...

Kudos to Katie. :) We are certainly not *all* using personas.

-r-

27 Jul 2007 - 5:52pm
SemanticWill
2007

That's why it was only my 2 cents :->

Honestly when I was designing gather.com we refered to our customers
as gather members because the focus is on the community aspect - but
now I can't do anything without a real persona because the user is so
not me! And of course because I spent a lot of time and resources on
them.

-will

On 7/27/07, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:
> > > since we are all
> > > creating and using personas
> > > anyway,
> >
> > We are?
>
> Hehehehe ...
>
> Kudos to Katie. :) We are certainly not *all* using personas.
>
> -r-
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------

27 Jul 2007 - 6:09pm
bminihan
2007

If I designed a screwdriver, and had to refer to the person actively using
some aspect of it (say...screwing), I would say "and then the user grasps
the handle like so."

However, if I then described, in writing, the screwdriver to someone who
wanted to use it, I would call him/her (in order of decreasing specificity):
- Joe/Jolene (his/her name)
- Carpenter/Machinist (his her role when using the tool)
- Person
- User

Personally, if I know nothing, I tend to call them "folks", because no one
else does (no, I didn't vote for the current president).

The only aspect of this that gets under my skin is when the drive to
humanize the label we apply to people ignores the much more dehumanizing
aspects of a service or system: ignoring "user" feedback, violating "user"
expectations, forcing bizarre contortions of logic and common sense to
perform simple tasks - you get the idea. Some folks get so wrapped up in
the right word to use, they neglect the fact that "users" think the site is
crap no matter what you call them. You can call me "Ray", but just make
sure you call me when it's more usable.

- Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of W Evans
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2007 6:52 PM
To: Robert Hoekman, Jr.; katie at firstthought.com; IXDA list
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] TechCrunch defends the life of the "user"

That's why it was only my 2 cents :->

Honestly when I was designing gather.com we refered to our customers
as gather members because the focus is on the community aspect - but
now I can't do anything without a real persona because the user is so
not me! And of course because I spent a lot of time and resources on
them.

-will

On 7/27/07, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:
> > > since we are all
> > > creating and using personas
> > > anyway,
> >
> > We are?
>
> Hehehehe ...
>
> Kudos to Katie. :) We are certainly not *all* using personas.
>
> -r-
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

27 Jul 2007 - 6:43pm
Christopher Fahey
2005

All this talk of not using the word "users" seems fairly self-serving to
me. It sounds like a way for traditional usability and HCI folks, or
marketers for that matter, to feel or appear a little more folksy and
less clinical about their approach to understanding, um, users. To try
to undo the perception of being out of touch with the emerging power of
social media and user(oops)-generated content.

But if we're seeing the lab coats come off a little bit around here,
well, that's a good thing.

The discomfort arises when we use the term "user" in contexts when so
many other words would obviously be better, a habit that many people in
this profession are prone to do. I've heard UXD and usability
specialists slip up and call their spouses and friends "users"
sometimes!

When describing the interactive behavior of a UI element, "user" can
often be fine. When quoting what a person in a usability test said about
that interface, however, perhaps "person" is preferable insofar as
"user" does indeed put some unnecessary distance between that person and
the readers of the test report.

Witness this sentence from Don Norman:
"Automobile cockpits have special requirements
because their controls must work well with unskilled
people, under stress, in limited time, where the
device is usually not the major focus of attention."

"People" is well-used here. "Drivers" might be good, too, but I think
he's deliberately trying to show that many drivers are pretty unskilled,
so even the title "drivers" might be giving many motorists a little too
much credit.

Note that Norman advocates the use of the word "people" wherever
possible, but his own essays he freely alternate between "people",
"users", "customers" and many other terms.

Maybe we should just try to be good writers?

-Cf

Christopher Fahey
____________________________
Behavior
http://www.behaviordesign.com
me: http://www.graphpaper.com

27 Jul 2007 - 7:19pm
Todd Warfel
2003

Amen, brother. I try and use contextual terms like participant
(usability testing), consumer (editorial site), user (transaction),
customer (retail), gamer (gaming site), or member (non-profit).

On Jul 27, 2007, at 3:42 PM, Christopher Fahey wrote:

> Why have one word? Why not just use the right word for the right
> context? Even when there is no domain specificity, there is almost
> always *engagement specificity*.
>
> When we talk about a person who is using something, it should be
> fine to call them users. When we talk about them reading, we call
> them readers. When we talk about them buying, we call them
> customers. When they play games, they are players. When they upload
> videos, they are contributors.
> Etc.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

27 Jul 2007 - 8:18pm
Cwodtke
2004

Would anyone consider writing up this debate, preferably with a strong
point of view, for Boxes and Arrows? I think it's an excellent
discussion, but tends to come back in cycles-- be best if we created a
starting point for next time.

Christopher Fahey wrote:
> All this talk of not using the word "users" seems fairly self-serving to
> me. It sounds like a way for traditional usability and HCI folks, or
> marketers for that matter, to feel or appear a little more folksy and
> less clinical about their approach to understanding, um, users. To try
> to undo the perception of being out of touch with the emerging power of
> social media and user(oops)-generated content.
>
> But if we're seeing the lab coats come off a little bit around here,
> well, that's a good thing.
>
> The discomfort arises when we use the term "user" in contexts when so
> many other words would obviously be better, a habit that many people in
> this profession are prone to do. I've heard UXD and usability
> specialists slip up and call their spouses and friends "users"
> sometimes!
>
> When describing the interactive behavior of a UI element, "user" can
> often be fine. When quoting what a person in a usability test said about
> that interface, however, perhaps "person" is preferable insofar as
> "user" does indeed put some unnecessary distance between that person and
> the readers of the test report.
>
> Witness this sentence from Don Norman:
> "Automobile cockpits have special requirements
> because their controls must work well with unskilled
> people, under stress, in limited time, where the
> device is usually not the major focus of attention."
>
> "People" is well-used here. "Drivers" might be good, too, but I think
> he's deliberately trying to show that many drivers are pretty unskilled,
> so even the title "drivers" might be giving many motorists a little too
> much credit.
>
> Note that Norman advocates the use of the word "people" wherever
> possible, but his own essays he freely alternate between "people",
> "users", "customers" and many other terms.
>
> Maybe we should just try to be good writers?
>
> -Cf
>
> Christopher Fahey
> ____________________________
> Behavior
> http://www.behaviordesign.com
> me: http://www.graphpaper.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
Christina Wodtke
Principal Instigator
415-577-2550

Business :: http://www.cucinamedia.com
Magazine :: http://www.boxesandarrows.com
Product :: http://www.publicsquarehq.com
Personal :: http://www.eleganthack.com
Book :: http://www.blueprintsfortheweb.com

cwodtke at eleganthack.com

27 Jul 2007 - 8:55pm
David Armano
2007

Dave, you took the words from my mouth.

http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2006/06/people_people_w.html

And I'm tired of the let's just call them people argument. It's
like some weird kind of politically correct movement so we don't
"offend" the people we are designing for. We can all move on.
Labels are helpful when used in the right context.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18748

27 Jul 2007 - 9:16pm
Thomas Vander Wal
2004

Most of us who stopped using the term user did so not because of
political correctness, but because the term lost its value. It has
nothing to do with offending anybody, but it has to do about feeling
empathy for the people who will use what we design and build. If we
are not caring about the people whose lives we impact with what we are
building we are suck as are those people.

A couple years ago I stopped using the term user and did not let those
working on the project use the term either. It was also a project we
did not use personas as we had really people who were using the
service or needing the information in the service that they could not
refind. As soon as the focus was not on a "user" but on George or
Sandra or the engineers needing the reports and talked about these
people and their needs we had better quality design with affordances
and the developers were identifying ways to ease the use of the
product by streamlining steps.

There are many great terms to use based on context as have been laid
out by others. When you start using the contextual terms it becomes
difficult to find a good place to use the term user.

User was a valuable term, but for most designers and developers is who
gets blamed in the statements, "I have to spend all weekend here
because the user can't figure it out". The user became a four letter
work rather than the person who wanted to or needed to use our product
to achieve a goal.

All the best,
Thomas

On 7/27/07, David Armano <darmano at earthlink.net> wrote:
> Dave, you took the words from my mouth.
>
> http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2006/06/people_people_w.html
>
> And I'm tired of the let's just call them people argument. It's
> like some weird kind of politically correct movement so we don't
> "offend" the people we are designing for. We can all move on.
> Labels are helpful when used in the right context.
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18748
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

27 Jul 2007 - 9:52pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Thomas, I think that works when you are doing it in a project specific
way, but how do you speak at the generic level? "person"? "human"?
To be honest, "human centered design" doesn't make me feel any more
empathetic to those I'm designing for than "user centered design"?
I'm sorry, but if ya can't make the leap from user to human and
generate the same level of empathy there is something really wrong
with some bits of your total process.

Basically, I'm not buying it.

Again, I like Luke's explanation best, as not every experience is
absolutely about use, but it does have activity. Use implies some
sort of task driven system, and while there may be goals and
motivations, there isn't always a task at hand to accomplish and
thus no, "use". But there is always an "actor"--someone who's
activity (or inactivity for the IxD negative space realm)--involved.

If we are describing processes for consideration, maybe the term
"actor" is most appropo. Just throwing it out there. Though I
don't see us saying "actor centered design" any time soon.

In the end, for the generic, the term "user" is so ubiquitously
understood within our community that I don't see any compelling
reason to remove it. Even Luke's reasoning while different and in
the right direction, doesn't really move me.

I often feel like people who refuse to use the term "user" are just
doing so to be different. It's much like David Armano's reaction.
Right? Its not about being PC, but it is about being "appropriate",
or more "polite" or more "correct". It just feels forced and
contrived.

Also, again, "customer experience" is completely inaccurate if you
want to include enterprise work. So don't even go there with me. ;)

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18748

27 Jul 2007 - 10:03pm
David Armano
2007

"It has nothing to do with offending anybody, but it has to do about
feeling empathy for the people who will use what we design and
build."

To the point of my post here:

http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2007/07/custo-consum-us.html

I understand what you are saying about empathy. Especially in your
context of personas who have names%u2014families and lives. Creating
stories make them seem like real PEOPLE. But they dont stop acting
like users, participants or participating in communities just because
they are people.

Personally%u2014and I am speaking for my self, these labels do mean
something to me, especially when I use them. I feel they help me
remind ourselves what's important. When someone is a paying
customer%u2014don't we call them customers? The term "the customer
is always right" may be an exaggeration%u2014but it emphasizes
what's important. That a human being is spending hard earned dollars
for a product or service.

No%u2014for me, using "appropriate" labels doesn't take away from
my feeling empathy toward another human being%u2014but it does help
me meet their needs better.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18748

27 Jul 2007 - 10:46pm
Katie Albers
2005

As a point of reference, here's why the "user" debate
looks critically important to me...

When we call someone a user, we are seeing them in
terms of the object. So the hardware/software/web
page/application/whatever becomes the implicitly
central thing in the interaction. It makes us think of
interactions in terms like "Will the user know to push
this button?" or "Will the user understand this term?"
rather than designing the tool around the person who
will employ it.

It isn't that it's impossible to design from a human
point of view and think of "users" but it's
intrinsically harder. For a vast majority of us,
language is a primary means of interacting with and
defining the world, and as scientists (see Steven
Pinkus work for a better understanding) are coming to
realize, language then shapes our understanding of the
world (and no, the Eskimos do not have X number of
terms for snow).

Subject-Verb-Object. If we form our interfaces around
the object, we are making it more difficult for the
humans and more difficult for ourselves to avoid that
centrality. Why go to that much trouble when changing
a term will change your viewpoint and thus your
results?

Katie
--- Christopher Fahey <chris.fahey at behaviordesign.com>
wrote:

> All this talk of not using the word "users" seems
> fairly self-serving to
> me. It sounds like a way for traditional usability
> and HCI folks, or
> marketers for that matter, to feel or appear a
> little more folksy and
> less clinical about their approach to understanding,
> um, users. To try
> to undo the perception of being out of touch with
> the emerging power of
> social media and user(oops)-generated content.
>
> But if we're seeing the lab coats come off a little
> bit around here,
> well, that's a good thing.
>
> The discomfort arises when we use the term "user" in
> contexts when so
> many other words would obviously be better, a habit
> that many people in
> this profession are prone to do. I've heard UXD and
> usability
> specialists slip up and call their spouses and
> friends "users"
> sometimes!
>
> When describing the interactive behavior of a UI
> element, "user" can
> often be fine. When quoting what a person in a
> usability test said about
> that interface, however, perhaps "person" is
> preferable insofar as
> "user" does indeed put some unnecessary distance
> between that person and
> the readers of the test report.
>
<snip>

____________________________________________________________________________________
Get the free Yahoo! toolbar and rest assured with the added security of spyware protection.
http://new.toolbar.yahoo.com/toolbar/features/norton/index.php

27 Jul 2007 - 11:07pm
Thomas Vander Wal
2004

It is a rare show that I sit in that does not use the term user in a
derogatory manner or incorrectly use the term to mean any person
taking some action with the product. Removing the term user takes away
the lazy process of thinking about what the person is doing. What
action are they taking. When a user is not using the service, because
the service is doing the work on behalf of a person, why is the person
still the user. There are really few cases where the term user is
actually appropriate.

It is not about having a broken process as much as it is having a
generic term for a stick figure in a use case. It is really a rare
shop/agency that does not blame the "user", most often because the
term has little meaning or value to most. The persona has value
because it removes the object nature of the "user".

I remove the term user when talking about the person performing an
action. User centered design has value. But when talking about a the
distinct person interacting with the product to purchase as a
consumer, trying to battle an interface just to watch a video as a
viewer, etc. the person and their action is lost when we just describe
them as a user.

You can watch a transformation in the designer and developer as they
describe the interaction with a product when they are not allowed to
use the term "user". The explanations of the actions, intended
responses from the person, how the product produces feedback and
stimulus, etc. change from cool descriptions to ones that have more
understanding.

I did not remove the term user to be different, I removed the term so
people returned to caring about the person they called the user. For
many designers and developers the "user" is "them" they are
disconnected from us.

I really do not care what people call the those who will use the
result of their work. I do care that we think about the people who use
the products in the best light, which I unfortunately do not find most
designers and developers do when using the term user.

All the best,
Thomas

On 7/27/07, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
> Thomas, I think that works when you are doing it in a project specific
> way, but how do you speak at the generic level? "person"? "human"?
> To be honest, "human centered design" doesn't make me feel any more
> empathetic to those I'm designing for than "user centered design"?
> I'm sorry, but if ya can't make the leap from user to human and
> generate the same level of empathy there is something really wrong
> with some bits of your total process.
>
> Basically, I'm not buying it.
>
> Again, I like Luke's explanation best, as not every experience is
> absolutely about use, but it does have activity. Use implies some
> sort of task driven system, and while there may be goals and
> motivations, there isn't always a task at hand to accomplish and
> thus no, "use". But there is always an "actor"--someone who's
> activity (or inactivity for the IxD negative space realm)--involved.
>
> If we are describing processes for consideration, maybe the term
> "actor" is most appropo. Just throwing it out there. Though I
> don't see us saying "actor centered design" any time soon.
>
> In the end, for the generic, the term "user" is so ubiquitously
> understood within our community that I don't see any compelling
> reason to remove it. Even Luke's reasoning while different and in
> the right direction, doesn't really move me.
>
> I often feel like people who refuse to use the term "user" are just
> doing so to be different. It's much like David Armano's reaction.
> Right? Its not about being PC, but it is about being "appropriate",
> or more "polite" or more "correct". It just feels forced and
> contrived.
>
> Also, again, "customer experience" is completely inaccurate if you
> want to include enterprise work. So don't even go there with me. ;)
>
> -- dave
>
>

28 Jul 2007 - 3:09am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Thomas Vander Wal wrote:
> It is a rare show that I sit in that does not use the term user in a
> derogatory manner or incorrectly use the term to mean any person
> taking some action with the product.

Using a different but equally meaningful word to describe who uses whatever it
is that the designer creates has literally nothing to do with how well the
designer will create the final product. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Not even remotely
close.

On a single project, I'll switch between user, people, mom, gamers,
photographers, customers, managers, biz dev types, clients and who knows how
many number of terms. And I'll say "user" plenty of times I'm sure. These
various terms have no impact on the final quality of the product design.

What does matter: Skill, craft, knowledge, experience, intelligence, decision
making ability, empathy, quick thinking, problem solving ability,
communication... and even more skill and craft.

Changing the word a designer uses to describe the customer for the design
process and communication between team members has no impact on the end result.

I'm not sure why this topic warrants this much discussion.

Andrei

28 Jul 2007 - 3:43am
Claude Knaus
2007

I have always felt uncomfortable using the term "user", without knowing why.
I'm grateful for this thread to clarify the reasons behind my feelings.

I think the term "user" is not only objectifying the person interacting
with/through a system, it also expresses a system-centric view, where the
person is playing a side role. Using the term "user" expresses ignorance,
rather than care.

Persona express the right level of care, but they are not always practical
or available. While I have no good answer for using other terms as
replacement for "user", I believe the problem and solution lies in our
attitude towards these people; the terminology will follow.

-- Claude

On 7/28/07, Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
>
> Thomas Vander Wal wrote:
> > It is a rare show that I sit in that does not use the term user in a
> > derogatory manner or incorrectly use the term to mean any person
> > taking some action with the product.
>
> Using a different but equally meaningful word to describe who uses
> whatever it
> is that the designer creates has literally nothing to do with how well the
> designer will create the final product. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Not even
> remotely
> close.
>
> On a single project, I'll switch between user, people, mom, gamers,
> photographers, customers, managers, biz dev types, clients and who knows
> how
> many number of terms. And I'll say "user" plenty of times I'm sure. These
> various terms have no impact on the final quality of the product design.
>
> What does matter: Skill, craft, knowledge, experience, intelligence,
> decision
> making ability, empathy, quick thinking, problem solving ability,
> communication... and even more skill and craft.
>
> Changing the word a designer uses to describe the customer for the design
> process and communication between team members has no impact on the end
> result.
>
> I'm not sure why this topic warrants this much discussion.
>
> Andrei
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

28 Jul 2007 - 4:38am
dszuc
2005

Two thoughts:

1) Writing the word "user" or "customer" or like term on a piece of paper
without meeting users has a meaning (perhaps cold, removed, an actor in a
use case, an object in a task flow, a requirement etc). "Who is the user
anyway?"

2) Meeting a person and learning about how they may use or currently use a
product has a different meaning. Doing it repetitively ensures you have
experience to draw on. "I remember when user A did this ... Wow that was a
surprise" The person no longer becomes an object.

How people relate to the term being used or documented (user, customer,
john, mary etc) for me depends on a) culture of the organisation to care
about the user in the first place b) Talking to/observing users c)
Implementing this as part of their design process quickly.

Admittedly there are folks out there who have a wonderful ability to
"empathies" without meeting users/customers, but suggest its probably better
to speak to at least 1.

Rgds,
Dan (a user of IxDA :)

Daniel Szuc
Principal Usability Consultant
Apogee Usability Asia Ltd
www.apogeehk.com
'Usability in Asia'

The Usability Kit - http://www.theusabilitykit.com

28 Jul 2007 - 7:56am
Baron Lane
2005

I see the "user" term in the technology industry used in the same way as "subject" is used in psychology
and the term "agent" is used in economics. If the messy human can be distilled and abstracted down to a set
number of measurable and predictable factors that allow us to guess and design in reasonable time
and budgets then productivity is possible.

Like behavioral economics current impact on traditional economics any real change in defining the "user"
will likely come from academia not corporate America, where user is good enough for their needs.

Baron Lane

----- Original Message ----
From: Katie Albers <katie_albers at yahoo.com>
To: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2007 11:46:08 PM
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] TechCrunch defends the life of the "user"

As a point of reference, here's why the "user" debate
looks critically important to me...

When we call someone a user, we are seeing them in
terms of the object. So the hardware/software/web
page/application/whatever becomes the implicitly
central thing in the interaction. It makes us think of
interactions in terms like "Will the user know to push
this button?" or "Will the user understand this term?"
rather than designing the tool around the person who
will employ it.

It isn't that it's impossible to design from a human
point of view and think of "users" but it's
intrinsically harder. For a vast majority of us,
language is a primary means of interacting with and
defining the world, and as scientists (see Steven
Pinkus work for a better understanding) are coming to
realize, language then shapes our understanding of the
world (and no, the Eskimos do not have X number of
terms for snow).

Subject-Verb-Object. If we form our interfaces around
the object, we are making it more difficult for the
humans and more difficult for ourselves to avoid that
centrality. Why go to that much trouble when changing
a term will change your viewpoint and thus your
results?

Katie
--- Christopher Fahey <chris.fahey at behaviordesign.com>
wrote:

> All this talk of not using the word "users" seems
> fairly self-serving to
> me. It sounds like a way for traditional usability
> and HCI folks, or
> marketers for that matter, to feel or appear a
> little more folksy and
> less clinical about their approach to understanding,
> um, users. To try
> to undo the perception of being out of touch with
> the emerging power of
> social media and user(oops)-generated content.
>
> But if we're seeing the lab coats come off a little
> bit around here,
> well, that's a good thing.
>
> The discomfort arises when we use the term "user" in
> contexts when so
> many other words would obviously be better, a habit
> that many people in
> this profession are prone to do. I've heard UXD and
> usability
> specialists slip up and call their spouses and
> friends "users"
> sometimes!
>
> When describing the interactive behavior of a UI
> element, "user" can
> often be fine. When quoting what a person in a
> usability test said about
> that interface, however, perhaps "person" is
> preferable insofar as
> "user" does indeed put some unnecessary distance
> between that person and
> the readers of the test report.
>
<snip>

____________________________________________________________________________________
Get the free Yahoo! toolbar and rest assured with the added security of spyware protection.
http://new.toolbar.yahoo.com/toolbar/features/norton/index.php
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

____________________________________________________________________________________
Moody friends. Drama queens. Your life? Nope! - their life, your story. Play Sims Stories at Yahoo! Games.
http://sims.yahoo.com/

28 Jul 2007 - 8:51am
SemanticWill
2007

I apologize if I repeat something here - hard to read this whole
thread from my crackberry. Perhaps the difficulties arise from
conflicting modalities of wanting to humanize the process while we
have all taught, read and evangelized the use of personas which we
have all defined as abstract archtypes of user groups - and therein
lies the problem. As soon as we use an abstraction we step away from
the messy business of real people. Is there a solution to this?
Perhaps achknowledgment of the conclict is enough.

-w

On 7/28/07, Baron Lane <baronlane at yahoo.com> wrote:
> I see the "user" term in the technology industry used in the same way as
> "subject" is used in psychology
> and the term "agent" is used in economics. If the messy human can be
> distilled and abstracted down to a set
> number of measurable and predictable factors that allow us to guess and
> design in reasonable time
> and budgets then productivity is possible.
>
> Like behavioral economics current impact on traditional economics any real
> change in defining the "user"
> will likely come from academia not corporate America, where user is good
> enough for their needs.
>
> Baron Lane
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Katie Albers <katie_albers at yahoo.com>
> To: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> Sent: Friday, July 27, 2007 11:46:08 PM
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] TechCrunch defends the life of the "user"
>
> As a point of reference, here's why the "user" debate
> looks critically important to me...
>
> When we call someone a user, we are seeing them in
> terms of the object. So the hardware/software/web
> page/application/whatever becomes the implicitly
> central thing in the interaction. It makes us think of
> interactions in terms like "Will the user know to push
> this button?" or "Will the user understand this term?"
> rather than designing the tool around the person who
> will employ it.
>
> It isn't that it's impossible to design from a human
> point of view and think of "users" but it's
> intrinsically harder. For a vast majority of us,
> language is a primary means of interacting with and
> defining the world, and as scientists (see Steven
> Pinkus work for a better understanding) are coming to
> realize, language then shapes our understanding of the
> world (and no, the Eskimos do not have X number of
> terms for snow).
>
> Subject-Verb-Object. If we form our interfaces around
> the object, we are making it more difficult for the
> humans and more difficult for ourselves to avoid that
> centrality. Why go to that much trouble when changing
> a term will change your viewpoint and thus your
> results?
>
> Katie
> --- Christopher Fahey <chris.fahey at behaviordesign.com>
> wrote:
>
> > All this talk of not using the word "users" seems
> > fairly self-serving to
> > me. It sounds like a way for traditional usability
> > and HCI folks, or
> > marketers for that matter, to feel or appear a
> > little more folksy and
> > less clinical about their approach to understanding,
> > um, users. To try
> > to undo the perception of being out of touch with
> > the emerging power of
> > social media and user(oops)-generated content.
> >
> > But if we're seeing the lab coats come off a little
> > bit around here,
> > well, that's a good thing.
> >
> > The discomfort arises when we use the term "user" in
> > contexts when so
> > many other words would obviously be better, a habit
> > that many people in
> > this profession are prone to do. I've heard UXD and
> > usability
> > specialists slip up and call their spouses and
> > friends "users"
> > sometimes!
> >
> > When describing the interactive behavior of a UI
> > element, "user" can
> > often be fine. When quoting what a person in a
> > usability test said about
> > that interface, however, perhaps "person" is
> > preferable insofar as
> > "user" does indeed put some unnecessary distance
> > between that person and
> > the readers of the test report.
> >
> <snip>
>
>
>
> ____________________________________________________________________________________
> Get the free Yahoo! toolbar and rest assured with the added security of
> spyware protection.
> http://new.toolbar.yahoo.com/toolbar/features/norton/index.php
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ____________________________________________________________________________________
> Moody friends. Drama queens. Your life? Nope! - their life, your story. Play
> Sims Stories at Yahoo! Games.
> http://sims.yahoo.com/
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------

28 Jul 2007 - 9:06am
Mark Schraad
2006

Great discussion...

Like most things, consider context and you audience and label
accordingly. No reason for a 'one size fits all' term here. We all
know what is meant nearly regardless of the term used.

Mark

28 Jul 2007 - 11:42pm
Michael Micheletti
2006

Hi Robert,

If I remember correctly, "Mort" was a user persona used at Microsoft during
development of Visual Studio. I've not been a 'Softie myself, but a friend
who was shared a bit about these personas with me. If I remember correctly,
Mort was a relatively inexperienced fellow who copied and pasted little
example code snippets and hoped they worked, without really understanding
the system or the language very well. There were two other personas of
increasing skill and depth, but I don't remember their names. Conversations
with Microsoft designers lead me to think that user personas are widely
accepted and used by entire development teams, at least on some projects.
Microsoft friends on this list please correct my second-hand explanation if
needed. Thanks,

Michael Micheletti

On 7/27/07, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:
>
>
> I heard someone from Microsoft once refer to users as "Mort". He just
> replaced "user"
> with "Mort" in every case. "Mort would do this, Mort would do that."
>

29 Jul 2007 - 1:51am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Claude Knaus wrote:
> Using the term "user" expresses ignorance, rather than care.

No it doesn't. I use the term "user" all of the time. Are you saying I'm
ignorant and don't know how to design products? Are you saying I don't care
about the people for whom I make products?

I'm not claiming you are. I'm just trying to make a point.

Andrei

29 Jul 2007 - 3:30am
Claude Knaus
2007

Hi Andrei,

Point taken. I apologize for my ambiguous writing; I was expressing my
feelings when I use the term "user". My conclusion was, that as long as you
care, the used term does not matter.

As for me, I dislike to use the term "user", when fitting alternatives can
be found. Like somebody mentioned, if it's about designing an e-book,
"reader" is a better term than "user". If I did use the term "user" in this
case, I feel like falling back to a "default" term, out of laziness. It
means to me that I ignore the fact that the user is actually a reader.

-- Claude

On 7/29/07, Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
>
> Claude Knaus wrote:
> > Using the term "user" expresses ignorance, rather than care.
>
> No it doesn't. I use the term "user" all of the time. Are you saying I'm
> ignorant and don't know how to design products? Are you saying I don't
> care
> about the people for whom I make products?
>
> I'm not claiming you are. I'm just trying to make a point.
>
> Andrei
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

29 Jul 2007 - 4:05pm
cfmdesigns
2004

On Jul 28, 2007, at 11:51 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> Claude Knaus wrote:
>> Using the term "user" expresses ignorance, rather than care.
>
> No it doesn't. I use the term "user" all of the time. Are you
> saying I'm
> ignorant and don't know how to design products? Are you saying I
> don't care
> about the people for whom I make products?

I find the push to avoid "user" as parallel to referring to employees
as "cast members" or any of the other terms which seem clever the
first time and make you roll your eyes thereafter. Some weird combo
of branding and political correctness.

In the end, I think it's more what use you put the new term to than
that you changed it. "Person" rather than "user" is no gain if it's
still just a generic term that doesn't add value to the process.

-- Jim

29 Jul 2007 - 6:00pm
David Bishop
2007

We just discussed this topic during MAYA's bi-weekly podcast, and had
some useful observations:

» "User" may have connotations of a drug user (worse, a drug abuser).
So we see why there's reluctance to use the term.

» On the other hand, so many of the alternatives seem stilted,
difficult to use, vague, odd, or otherwise not-quite-right
(interactor, for example). So "User" is still best.

» There's a hierarchy of specificity; one should use the most-
specific term that's appropriate:
(Bryan Minihan had this right on the 27th)
At the top of the pyramid: The most generic "Human," as in Human-
Centered Design ("Person" is probably here, too.)
Next: "User," slightly more specific because it narrows down the
whole list of humans to just those who are using the product/system
in question. As in: "Let's make sure we test a prototype with some
users before assuming the feature works."
Then the roles: Driver, Mechanic, Deli Manager, Photographer, Shrimp
Boat Captain
Then the personas: Ed, the crotchety captain of the shrimp boat
"Sally Mae," who's been to sea in 3 hurricanes in his lifetime, etc.,
etc.
(I suppose real, actual users come next: "Frank, who called the
support line yesterday at 12:30 to ask how to make a stacked bar
chart.")

» I wonder if the human/user distinction isn't like the rope/line
distinction: It's *rope* until it's used on a ship, then it's *line*.
They're humans until there's a specific product they interact with,
then they're users. (Ah, I just love semantics.)

David Bishop
MAYA Design, Inc.
412.488.2900

29 Jul 2007 - 7:43pm
Joseph Selbie
2007

I have found this thread both interesting and mystifying.

Interesting because it obviously awakened strong feelings and opinions.
Mystifying because it obviously awakened strong feelings and opinions. Who
knew the word user could generate such passion :).

I agree with many of you who have encouraged the use of the term that
denotes a specific user when appropriate, i.e. reader, searcher, buyer, etc.
And of course, for those of you who have done personas, using the persona's
name. We do a lot of web application design, so our users break down into
functional groups very easily, such as customer service reps, consultants,
auditors, etc.

But I would still like to defend the term user. It is so massively useful
and helpful. In workshops, presentations to clients, con calls, meetings it
saves a thousand words. It is generic where other terms are specific. There
are many times when a particular experience design convention cuts across
all personas and specific groups and "user" is the verbal shortcut that
covers them all. Otherwise one gets into trying to verbally list all the
specific users and it is awkward, and often an incomplete list. (If your
stakeholders are like mine, they will unerringly speak up to mention the
groups of people I omitted in my hasty rendition of the list :).) I also
prefer "user" over "people" or "persons" because it implies interaction. A
user wants or needs to do something.

I would also like to defend "users" impersonal nature. Coming into new
companies, as my teams often do, we find that there is a lot of confusion
about how to do user centered design and what it actually means.
Conversations with the new company stakeholders in the early stages of our
engagements are often very confused and confusing. They freely mix user
types, user motivations, features and desired outcomes. One of the things of
great value we bring to the table is an impersonal methodology that breaks
the process down into discrete elements. The term and concept of "user" when
applied appropriately gives the company stakeholders and team members a
needed distance from their own points of view. It takes their strong
opinions and emotions and channels them into a rational decision process.
Getting them used to thinking in terms of users is part of the process of
acquainting them with the *science* of interaction design.

My $.02

Joseph Selbie
Founder and CEO
Tristream
530-477-5777 x-202
530-277-6326 cell
jselbie at tristream.com
www.tristream.com

29 Jul 2007 - 9:54pm
Brian Forte
2004

Gentlefolk,

Coming in very late but still quoting an early response for my
jumping off point, Alain D M G Vaillancourt wrote back on 2007/07/28:

>On the other hand, when I read software texts with the term "user" in
>it I get the impression that the term "user" is employed to soften the
>disdain all developers have for people who can't write code.

"All developers" is, I'm assuming, a rhetorical overstatement.

That said, I argued a similar position regarding the both the term
'user' and the fractious relationship between software makers and
software users a few months back in an article for Red Hat Magazine.
To quote myself, in part:

[I]n more mature human endeavours, the toolmaker and the
tool-user aren't adversarys. Luthiers don't look down on
guitarists for 'merely' playing the instruments a luthier
makes. Aviation engineers don't look down on pilots for
'merely' flying the planes they design and build. Just as
important, while guitarists may kvetch about or heap praise
upon the work of a luthier, they don't look down on them for
being toolmakers.

In the continuing absence of maturity in the software world,
it's the documentation that has to treat the tool-user with
respect. Which is a further argument against Knuth's Literate
Programming. Since it's all too common to see software
toolmakers treat tool-users with short shrift, it's a useful
caution to have the 'software is written in one corner and
documented in another'.

<http://www.redhatmagazine.com/2007/04/18/how-to-write-really-good-documentation-donald-knuth-was-wrong/>

(Obligatory disclaimer: I work for Red Hat as a technical writer but
speak only for myself here and when I'm writing for Red Hat Magazine.)

Regards,

Brian Forte.
--
words, edits, type, layout, code
<mailto:bforte at betweenborders.com>
<http://betweenborders.com/>

30 Jul 2007 - 5:26pm
Bill Krauss
2007

Greetings...

As a member (and first-time participant) of this discussion list, I
find the intent of the actor to be critical. Respect for the personas
of individual humans helps creates meaningful design; treating
subjects as objects reduces people to abstractions.

That said, creating mental models of stakeholder behavior is
essential to what we do as designers. If we're to be agents of
change and not just word junkies, the labels we apply to our
interactors act as shorthand, allowing us to quickly describe the
individuals and groups (our clients) without whom none of us would
have jobs.

So, intent, and interpretation of intent, are crucial. For example,
how many readers will correctly interpret the intent of my sig? And
what's the difference between using it here versus on a customer
support list?

Yours in the pursuit of knowledge,

Bill Krauss

P.S. Please excuse me if I've failed to include any of the suggested
terms.

---------------------------------------
"User Error: Replace User and Restart."
---------------------------------------

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18748

31 Jul 2007 - 12:42am
Chris Pallé
2007

I was watchin' this thread grow, but couldn't jump in because of a
tight deadline

This topic is always loud because it's easy to be opinionated about
it and it stokes emotionality. I'll admit it gets me too. :-)

Many others articulated the same great point that Chris and Todd
made. So, I'll put my bud here.

As part of an effort to be better writers and communicators, we
should use the appropriate term for its context. Do I still use
"user," sure, when I'm being lazy. Personally, as a designer and
communicator speaking to other designers, I think we should make a
move away from the term "user" when possible.

Now, I've never conducted usability testing in any extensive capacity
and perhaps there is an appropriate use of "user" in that context so
as to distance the observer from the observed. That said, those folks
are the researchers, not designers.

I believe that designers should shy away from the overuse of "user"
because it does distance the creators from their audience. As others
have noted, it inhibits empathy. Not recognizing and embracing the
connection we're making with the intended recipients of our creations
will certainly dampen and wash out the emotional response we're seeking.

There is not a single designer on this list worth a lick of salt who
will disagree that a successful product design evokes an emotional
response in the consumers of said products.

Related to this topic, I got into a discussion with a fellow designer
at ALA and moved it over to my blog. Along with the others, here's
shameless blog post plug too :-P
http://chrispalle.com/2007/07/03/craft-of-the-human-experience/

Fire away!
-C

chris.pallé, {human} experience
--------------------------------------------------------
blue flame interactive
732.513.3570
chris.palle at blueflameinteractive.com
http://blueflameinteractive.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrispalle

On Jul 27, 2007, at 7:43 PM, Christopher Fahey wrote:

> All this talk of not using the word "users" seems fairly self-
> serving to
> me. It sounds like a way for traditional usability and HCI folks, or
> marketers for that matter, to feel or appear a little more folksy and
> less clinical about their approach to understanding, um, users. To try
> to undo the perception of being out of touch with the emerging
> power of
> social media and user(oops)-generated content.
>
> But if we're seeing the lab coats come off a little bit around here,
> well, that's a good thing.
>
> The discomfort arises when we use the term "user" in contexts when so
> many other words would obviously be better, a habit that many
> people in
> this profession are prone to do. I've heard UXD and usability
> specialists slip up and call their spouses and friends "users"
> sometimes!
>
> When describing the interactive behavior of a UI element, "user" can
> often be fine. When quoting what a person in a usability test said
> about
> that interface, however, perhaps "person" is preferable insofar as
> "user" does indeed put some unnecessary distance between that
> person and
> the readers of the test report.
>
> Witness this sentence from Don Norman:
> "Automobile cockpits have special requirements
> because their controls must work well with unskilled
> people, under stress, in limited time, where the
> device is usually not the major focus of attention."
>
> "People" is well-used here. "Drivers" might be good, too, but I think
> he's deliberately trying to show that many drivers are pretty
> unskilled,
> so even the title "drivers" might be giving many motorists a little
> too
> much credit.
>
> Note that Norman advocates the use of the word "people" wherever
> possible, but his own essays he freely alternate between "people",
> "users", "customers" and many other terms.
>
> Maybe we should just try to be good writers?
>
> -Cf
>
> Christopher Fahey
> ____________________________
> Behavior
> http://www.behaviordesign.com
> me: http://www.graphpaper.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

2 Aug 2007 - 10:29am
Christopher Fahey
2005

Sorry to resurrect the "user" thread... But it occurred to me that the
most natural and common way that most people _already use_ to describe
interactive experiences, and the one that has the most built-in empathy
for the person/user being talked about, is simply using the word
*"you"*.

For example, instead of saying:
"The user clicks SUBMIT and then clicks OKAY in the confirmation dialog
box"
... or
"The person/customer/etc. clicks SUBMIT and then clicks OKAY in the
confirmation dialog box"
... we should perhaps just say:
"You click SUBMIT and then click OKAY in the confirmation dialog box."

This is how normal people talk. Why do we or should we communicate
differently? What's wrong with the second person?

Full essay here:
http://www.graphpaper.com/2007/08-02_user-vs-you

Cheers,
-Cf

Christopher Fahey
____________________________
Behavior
http://www.behaviordesign.com
me: http://www.graphpaper.com

2 Aug 2007 - 10:50am
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

The flaw with this approach is that "you, the developer" have different
cultural background/experience/expectations than "her, the blog reader".

This is one of the reasons for creating and referring to personas.

Oleh

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is the Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On 8/2/07, Christopher Fahey <chris.fahey at behaviordesign.com> wrote:
>
> Sorry to resurrect the "user" thread... But it occurred to me that the
> most natural and common way that most people _already use_ to describe
> interactive experiences, and the one that has the most built-in empathy
> for the person/user being talked about, is simply using the word
> *"you"*.
>
> For example, instead of saying:
> "The user clicks SUBMIT and then clicks OKAY in the confirmation dialog
> box"
> ... or
> "The person/customer/etc. clicks SUBMIT and then clicks OKAY in the
> confirmation dialog box"
> ... we should perhaps just say:
> "You click SUBMIT and then click OKAY in the confirmation dialog box."
>
> This is how normal people talk. Why do we or should we communicate
> differently? What's wrong with the second person?
>
> Full essay here:
> http://www.graphpaper.com/2007/08-02_user-vs-you
>
> Cheers,
> -Cf
>
> Christopher Fahey
> ____________________________
> Behavior
> http://www.behaviordesign.com
> me: http://www.graphpaper.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

2 Aug 2007 - 12:31pm
Christopher Fahey
2005

> The flaw with this approach is that
> "you, the developer" have different
> cultural background/experience/
> expectations than "her, the blog
> reader".
>
> This is one of the reasons for
> creating and referring to personas.

That's precisely correct, and very succintly put. Using the word "you"
in documentation can risk implying, if only subconsciously, that the
reader -- who is a developer, designer, etc -- is the same person who
will actually use the system.

Still, I think I have a workaround. If the whole point is to foster
empathy for the end-user of a product, explicitly demanding that the
developer think of themselves as a user. Maybe a better formulation
would be more like a traditional "Choose Your Own Adventure" literary
model, prefacing and contextualizing the whole document and process
around role-playing:

"You are Beth, the frequent shopper. You click SUBMIT and then click
OKAY in the confirmation dialog box."

By frequently reminding the developer just whose shoes they need to
continually imagine themselves in, the second person is given this
missing context of projection.

Most of the best designers I know have an amazing degree of built-in
ability to imagine themselves actually being their customers and
actually using their products. Conversely, the worst designers are
borderline Asperger's sufferers, with no ability to even imagine another
person's perspective. Perhaps another approach, then, would be to
require the designer him/herself to write in the first person, role
playing as the user.

"I am Beth, the frequent shopper. I click SUBMIT and then click OKAY
in the confirmation dialog box."

Food for thought. Has anyone seen or used documentation using these
alternative perspectives (second and first person?)

-Cf

Christopher Fahey
____________________________
Behavior
http://www.behaviordesign.com
me: http://www.graphpaper.com

________________________________

From: Oleh Kovalchuke [mailto:tangospring at gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2007 11:50 AM
To: Christopher Fahey
Cc: ixd-discussion
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] TechCrunch defends the life of the
"user"

The flaw with this approach is that "you, the developer" have
different cultural background/experience/expectations than "her, the
blog reader".

This is one of the reasons for creating and referring to
personas.

Oleh

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is the Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On 8/2/07, Christopher Fahey <chris.fahey at behaviordesign.com>
wrote:

Sorry to resurrect the "user" thread... But it occurred
to me that the
most natural and common way that most people _already
use_ to describe
interactive experiences, and the one that has the most
built-in empathy
for the person/user being talked about, is simply using
the word
*"you"*.

For example, instead of saying:
"The user clicks SUBMIT and then clicks OKAY in the
confirmation dialog
box"
... or
"The person/customer/etc. clicks SUBMIT and then clicks
OKAY in the
confirmation dialog box"
... we should perhaps just say:
"You click SUBMIT and then click OKAY in the
confirmation dialog box."

This is how normal people talk. Why do we or should we
communicate
differently? What's wrong with the second person?

Full essay here:
http://www.graphpaper.com/2007/08-02_user-vs-you
<http://www.graphpaper.com/2007/08-02_user-vs-you>

Cheers,
-Cf

Christopher Fahey
____________________________
Behavior
http://www.behaviordesign.com
me: http://www.graphpaper.com
<http://www.graphpaper.com>

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............
http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................
http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

2 Aug 2007 - 2:28pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

I see.

Do people get more involved in the first, second or third person narratives,
when they *read* them?
There are two important caveats to this question: 1) the narratives should
describe unfamiliar personalities, and 2) the writer is not a literary
giant.

"I" could work, if the described personality matches that of the reader.
Otherwise Jeff, the engineer, will reject the narrative of Zelda, the belly
dancer, as a phony. It is also easier to forget about Beth, the frequent
shopper, if you do not constantly refer to her throughout narrative, which
demands insertion of the clumsy construction, I, Beth, throughout the text.

I wouldn't identify with "you", second person perspective - it sounds a bit
too "manualish", commandeering.

That leaves the "third person" perspective.

Perhaps we could glean some insights from the *popular* SF stories? From
quick look at my collection, I would say that the stories are written mostly
from the third perspective. "Flowers for Algernon" is notable exception, but
than, if you can write like Keyes, you have chosen wrong occupation.

Oleh

On 8/2/07, Christopher Fahey <chris.fahey at behaviordesign.com> wrote:
>
> > The flaw with this approach is that
> > "you, the developer" have different
> > cultural background/experience/
> > expectations than "her, the blog
> > reader".
> >
> > This is one of the reasons for
> > creating and referring to personas.
>
> That's precisely correct, and very succintly put. Using the word "you"
> in documentation can risk implying, if only subconsciously, that the
> reader -- who is a developer, designer, etc -- is the same person who
> will actually use the system.
>
> Still, I think I have a workaround. If the whole point is to foster
> empathy for the end-user of a product, explicitly demanding that the
> developer think of themselves as a user. Maybe a better formulation
> would be more like a traditional "Choose Your Own Adventure" literary
> model, prefacing and contextualizing the whole document and process
> around role-playing:
>
> "You are Beth, the frequent shopper. You click SUBMIT and then click
> OKAY in the confirmation dialog box."
>
> By frequently reminding the developer just whose shoes they need to
> continually imagine themselves in, the second person is given this
> missing context of projection.
>
> Most of the best designers I know have an amazing degree of built-in
> ability to imagine themselves actually being their customers and
> actually using their products. Conversely, the worst designers are
> borderline Asperger's sufferers, with no ability to even imagine another
> person's perspective. Perhaps another approach, then, would be to
> require the designer him/herself to write in the first person, role
> playing as the user.
>
> "I am Beth, the frequent shopper. I click SUBMIT and then click OKAY
> in the confirmation dialog box."
>
> Food for thought. Has anyone seen or used documentation using these
> alternative perspectives (second and first person?)
>
> -Cf
>
> Christopher Fahey
> ____________________________
> Behavior
> http://www.behaviordesign.com
> me: http://www.graphpaper.com
>
>
> ________________________________
>
> From: Oleh Kovalchuke [mailto:tangospring at gmail.com]
> Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2007 11:50 AM
> To: Christopher Fahey
> Cc: ixd-discussion
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] TechCrunch defends the life of the
> "user"
>
>
> The flaw with this approach is that "you, the developer" have
> different cultural background/experience/expectations than "her, the
> blog reader".
>
> This is one of the reasons for creating and referring to
> personas.
>
> Oleh
>
>
> --
> Oleh Kovalchuke
> Interaction Design is the Design of Time
> http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm
>
>
> On 8/2/07, Christopher Fahey <chris.fahey at behaviordesign.com>
> wrote:
>
> Sorry to resurrect the "user" thread... But it occurred
> to me that the
> most natural and common way that most people _already
> use_ to describe
> interactive experiences, and the one that has the most
> built-in empathy
> for the person/user being talked about, is simply using
> the word
> *"you"*.
>
> For example, instead of saying:
> "The user clicks SUBMIT and then clicks OKAY in the
> confirmation dialog
> box"
> ... or
> "The person/customer/etc. clicks SUBMIT and then clicks
> OKAY in the
> confirmation dialog box"
> ... we should perhaps just say:
> "You click SUBMIT and then click OKAY in the
> confirmation dialog box."
>
> This is how normal people talk. Why do we or should we
> communicate
> differently? What's wrong with the second person?
>
> Full essay here:
> http://www.graphpaper.com/2007/08-02_user-vs-you
> <http://www.graphpaper.com/2007/08-02_user-vs-you>
>
> Cheers,
> -Cf
>
> Christopher Fahey
> ____________________________
> Behavior
> http://www.behaviordesign.com
> me: http://www.graphpaper.com
> <http://www.graphpaper.com>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............
> http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................
> http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>
>
>
>
>

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is the Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

4 Aug 2007 - 11:37pm
Esteban Barahona
2006

...I was going to suggest the use of "I" but someone write it
before. For visualising in the design process it may work.

The background of "user" in computing is not positive. It's
basically one layer more in the system. Not even the direction of the
interactivity is user-centric; as one software engineer professor told
us once: "Input/Output is CPU-centric, that's why most coders
doesn't get it (the direction of interactivity and information) at
the first time". This means that input methods are not an input of
information to users' minds, it's an input of code to the CPU.
Output doesn't comes from the user experience but from the CPU
(...or GPU).

There's being a historical disdain for the user from most software
developers, even using the name "luser" (reading: loser). In this
way, the user can be thought as another CPU... and a clumsy one. Some
quotes:

"Unix is simple. It just takes a genius to understand its
simplicity." %u2013 Dennis Ritchie
"UNIX was not designed to stop its users from doing stupid things,
as that would also stop them from doing clever things." %u2013 Doug
Gwyn
"Unix is user-friendly. It just isn't promiscuous about which users
it's friendly with." %u2013 Steven King

This are Unix-specific but still. And it's also common in security
to use concepts such as "social engineer", "the weakest security
layer/element are users". And there's the assumption of a
difference between "classes": (computer)>coder>power-user>user

"User Centered Design" is a way of saying that all this history is
wrong, but using the same concepts. This idea should be implicit, not
the center of a design philosophy. IMO, we should call it just
"Design" and elevate the standards of satisfaction for (users).
Even concept of interface is almost like treating objects and
subjects as equal systems interfacing to form a machine, the Matrix
(...or w-e). Isn't interaction similar? from wikipedia:
"interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more OBJECTS
have an effect upon one another."

I support using "I" (when designing, speaking in "human
language") and "user" (when coding, speaking in "machine
language") ie: the "home directory": /Users/I

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=18748

7 Aug 2007 - 10:51pm
Dante Murphy
2006

Chris-

I have used this technique extensively in scenario-driven design. Usually the personas are written 3rd person, almost like a narrator setting up backstory, but the scenarios are then written from the perspective of the persona. They've even drifted into the realm of storyboard...so far that once we created a large-format comic with professional illustrations as part of a pitch.

Incidentally, that pitch landed a $400M client. Never underestimate the power of a good story.

Dante

________________________________

"I am Beth, the frequent shopper. I click SUBMIT and then click OKAY
in the confirmation dialog box."

Food for thought. Has anyone seen or used documentation using these
alternative perspectives (second and first person?)

-Cf

Christopher Fahey
____________________________

9 Aug 2007 - 10:03pm
Esteban Barahona
2006

\"Food for thought. Has anyone seen or used documentation using these alternative perspectives (second and first person?)\"

I\'m using a first person documentation for my free software project:

http://zensui.org.googlepages.com/STC.html (temporary)
http://www.zensui.org/IxD/STC.html (when and if the project has a prototype/beta)

an extract: \"An interface should not distract me\" instead of \"An interface should not distract the user\". Personally I prefer writting and reading in first person, with third person it always seems like the writter and reader are communicating about someone else.

Syndicate content Get the feed