You are a…

I recently tweeted the question: “What term to you prefer. ‘user’, ‘person’, something else.”

I received some pretty polarized responses:

I’m torn myself. Not entirely comfortable with ‘user’ but I haven’t come across any options I like better. ‘Participant’ is interesting, but somehow still undervaluing.

What do you think? Any better suggestions or examples?

  • @flashlight mentioned the need to use terms to describe people in the right context, and that’s one of the points that struck me the most.

    How I think about people, users and customers and present them to investors may differ from how I message it to the people using or paying for my products and services. It’s all about being able to communicate to the audience in a way they understand, quickly, easily, comfortably. It’s language UI.

    I hate “customer” much more than “user”, btw.

    • It is language UI for sure. @flashlight’s breakdown was excellent. For epic.io I’m considering ‘member’ and ‘user’. The interesting difference to me is that member feels more like the person is part of the ‘epic’ community while user clarifies the distinctions that epic.io is a tool that they are using. The former feels like it’s more about the service while the ‘user’ ironicly communicates that its more about the person.

      All very interesting.
      … sent while mobile.

      • Agree. @flashlight’s and this thread’s comments on context are important considerations.

        We used ‘Guest’ in the restaurant industry because it drew on the context of “welcoming” and “special event”.

  • some words we’ve tossed around…Owner, Follower, Subscriber. Customer just sounds like you’re telling someone you don’t want to deal with them as an individual. User is a little clinical and makes me feel like I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing.

    • What do you think of ‘member’?
      … sent while mobile.

      • Member means you got picked or met some criteria so it can sound
        disingenuous unless you’re really are member. I’m a member of
        the Olympic team sounds cool but I’m a member of my credit card company
        sounds lame.

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        • Well said.


          Michael Lewkowitz
          519.200.3034

  • Is “participant” too formal? It does describe people who choose to participate in something.

    • I’m not sure, but it does have a better connotation than member in that it implies more action/agency.

    • I’m not sure, but it does have a better connotation than member in that it implies more action/agency.


      Michael Lewkowitz
      519.200.3034

    • I’m not sure, but it does have a better connotation than member in that it implies more action/agency.


      Michael Lewkowitz
      519.200.3034

    • I’m not sure, but it does have a better connotation than member in that it implies more action/agency.


      Michael Lewkowitz
      519.200.3034