From the Meriam-Webster Dictionary.
noun us·er \ˈyü-zər\
1. a person or thing that uses something
2. a person who frequently uses illegal drugs
Before computers the term ‘user’ was used by one type of industry, narcotics and addiction. It still has those connotations in English:
Synonyms for user
addict, dopehead, druggie (also druggy), fiend, freak [slang], head, hophead [slang], hype [slang], junkie (also junky), stoner, doper
The term ‘user’ suggests a one way interaction. A person who uses something. There’s no two way dialogue. No human element to the word, if anything the term dehumanises as it suggests they are nothing more than a passive consumer.
The problem we face is the term is ubiquitous in the digital industry it’s hard to challenge the norm. User Experience, User Research, User Stories; all common place. The term is in my job title and all over my website.
I’m suggesting we try, we use alternative terms. If you are a business talk about customers, if you are university talk about students, if you are in government talk about citizens. Choose a term that is more human. Let’s empower our customers, students & citizens and call them something that gives them a voice. If we do that then maybe we’ll be more
user-centred human-centred in our work.
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