5 Reasons to Stop labeling People users

I don’t like it and I think based on the searches I did to validate my idea while writing this—the internet makers community agrees with me.

people using VR taken from chinadaily.com

1. A persons feelings drive their actions.

We rarely hear people say “I want to buy a guitar because I have money and extra time.”

Instead, we usually hear something more along the lines of, “I need this guitar because I can feel my soul speaking through it.”

The same is true with almost every other feeling we have and action we do.

I usually don’t buy random things or make new friends based on logic alone. Most of the time there’s a bit of logic that weighs in. But, in the end I always go with my gut.

So does everyone else.

2. User Experience is a term that doesn’t properly describe what it is actually trying to describe.

There’s a great article I read a few years ago by Helge Fredheim that I’ve always thought, but could never quite articulate properly.

In a nutshell, most think the term User Experience means to “design an experience” using graphics, user flows (funnels, etc), services & tech.

But, that’s impossible.

A person is a human being with emotions, reason and uses tools to accomplish tasks and ideas.
A user is someone who uses tools, devices or for medicinal purposes, drugs.
An Experience is a series of emotional responses a person feels during a time, place and specific context.

In fact, User Experience design (UX) should be called by it’s actual name Interaction Design (IxD) and it really is designing to allow someone to have a positive experience while interacting with computers.

3. There are statistical patterns within groups of people. But, people are not statistics.

Statistics are fantastic. We have so much information shared into computer servers these days that there are new industries evolving just to understand our patterns, help us learn faster and in some cases—learn for us.

What’s the easiest example we can think of involving human behavior patterns?

I would say it’s probably that we mostly converge around large bodies of water. Does that mean that we ALL live next to large bodies of water or that one couldn’t live by a well in a desert? No.

Categorization is also very important to understand majority vs niche behaviors. Understanding groups, subgroups, genres, etc. can help us reach the folks we want to talk to using communication techniques aimed at them while we’re out shaking hands or with algorithms and target-marketing t0ols on the internet.

But, again, most of the people that you are trying to reach using those tools are people with desires and aren’t just using a piece of tech for the sake of it.

4. The more empathetic you are to the people that use your digital goods—the happier they will be to use them.

I feel like this George Orwell quote just about sums it up:

If you see somebody begging under a bridge you might feel sorry and toss them a coin, that’s not empathy, it’s sympathy. Empathy is when you have a conversation, try to understand how they feel about life, what it’s like sleeping outside on a cold winter’s night. — George Orwell

The same is true with the people you’re communicating with online. If you see in the Google Analytics that people aren’t buying your product or dropping off just before.

You could try to change the funnel, change a color of a button, or some leading text.

But, what if you actually learn from them whey they aren’t buying what you do it by reaching out to them and asking them personally. Then, changing what it is you’re trying to give them by making it more valuable to them.

This is how great businesses and thought leaders go through life.

The importance of empathy only increases as humans evolve. I think there’s an incredible TED talk by Katri Saarikivi that you should watch. She covers the topic in depth.

5. Because we’re more complex than just tool users.

People are far more complex than just tool users. Just think about the types of tools we employ in our own minds without ever saying a word or completing an action.

Just this morning, I thought about at least 30 different things that needed I needed to do and how to prioritize and approach them—while I poured my coffee.

Another example is that driving a car is incredibly complex. Let’s think about the things that are happening in any given moment while driving a car.

  1. the muscle memories: foot on the gas, brain controlling your leg and foot, gear shifters, steering wheel, etc
  2. a TON of information about your surroundings in various forms: 3–5 mirrors, windows, various gauges & multipliers to help you judge distance, fuel, speed, mileage, etc.
  3. The environmental & time based notifiers: on the fly math for distance markers, travel speeds, resting/gas, problems, etc
  4. Cell phones, GPS and other digital devices you’re using but shouldn’t be
  5. Your passengers: screaming kids, people watching movies, conversations, etc
  6. Not to mention the amount of other folks doing the same thing that need attention and priority

All that in any given moment—just to drive a car.

Here’s my point: If you’re thinking about the person operating that car as a possible user of your new “parking finder app”—you’re doing it wrong.

That person is using many tools and probably doesn’t need yours. But, if you think you can allow them to want what you have because you live in the same city and you understand the frustrations of parking in your city too, then you might be on to something.

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