Jack Dorsey: Stop saying user, start saying customer
1. A person who uses or operates something, esp. a computer or other machine.
2. A person who takes illegal drugs; a drug user.
Jack Dorsey (Twitter Founder) argues a good point for a change in digital semantics.
Calling a person who encounters your technology a user rather than a customer strips that person of value. And you want to build something valuable. So let’s take all measures to avoid doing that.
I initially found it hard to move from the habitual “user” to “customer”. I think this is because “customer” implies payment and most people who encounter a website do not necessarily pay for the experience.
The way I’ve found around this is to write out types of customers by intention. Then write out what they are “buying” and “selling” - which is not necessarily money.
A Facebook customer (whose intention is to connect to friends) sells their time and buys social reward and knowledge (sometimes.. other times they buy kitten visuals).
A Facebook customer (whose intention is to inform and persuade the 1st customers to click through to their service) sells money for Facebook ads and buys screen space (standard real estate).
Spelling it out it also creates a reminder that any time we engage in a behaviour there is a cost and a benefit. Continue to make sure the customer buys more than they sell.
In this light maybe even Trader is a better word? Trading time (and potentially money) for whatever is the benefit of your experience.
So on Twitter I trade time and known information for social reward and unknown information.
Perhaps another good replacement word is “Stakeholder”. This reinforces that great solutions are collaborative and consider the needs of all involved in the problem you are looking to solve.