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February 1, 2021
UX writing tip: 49 different ways to say “user”

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It’s fair to say I am a master of negotiation.

That’s a lie.

My twins are masters of negotiation. They’re relentless. And as my energy dwindles towards bedtime, their persuasive powers seem to grow.

 “OK, 1 more Paw Patrol and then we turn it off—deal?” I say.

 “Deal, Mummy.”

 As the episode draws to the end one of them shimmies on my lap while the other one grabs the remote with a pincer-like grip.

Their dedication to that black piece of plastic reminds me of how much clients often like to hang onto jargon.

In the UX world, that means referring to the people who engage with their app or website as “users”.

People who use a digital product = “users”. Makes sense right?

I get it, jargon exists because it’s a highly convenient way of getting a point across amongst people who work in the same industry.

For this reason, if you’re planning to work in—or do already work in—UX you should get across as much jargon as you can, as quickly as possible. Here’s a handy little glossary I made to help.

Leave the jargon at the office

To be super clear, it’s FIIIIIIINE to call them ‘users’ amongst the team, just please don’t refer to people as users in the app/website itself.

Should be easy right?

If only. Finding clearer alternatives invariably requires more brain power than watching yet another episode of 8 puppies saving Adventure Bay from a stinking flower.

“OK, let’s think of a new way to refer to the people using our app”, is a sentence I find myself saying a lot.

 Only to be met with groans or confused expressions from Product Owners and designers in the virtual hangout.

But hey, you didn’t get into UX writing because it was easy.

Where to be mindful of rogue “users”

Previously, it used to be a lot more common to see labels for “User name”.

Luckily with the rise of UX writing, this is on the decline. However, it can be tricky when one account has multiple users people accessing it. Then you might see little commands sneak in like:

“Make another user host”

“Add another user”

The other place where it can be frequently used is in Support documentation—the how-to guides most SaaS companies have on their website. And I have even spotted the odd occurrence of it on a sales page.

The case against the use of “user”

Just in case you need a little extra help getting some stakeholders across the line, here are a couple of points you can use.

1. It has a very negative connotation of drug users, something most people won’t want to be associated with.

2. Your whole mission is to sound as friendly and helpful as possible. And calling someone a “user” makes the dystopian future feel a little too close for comfort. We’ve already had to live through 2020, let’s be kind. 

Friendly alternatives

There are so many options out to choose from. Like all good UX writing, the context should determine what words you choose. While “Add another guest” works perfectly for accommodation websites, it would sound weird in your banking app.

All you have to do is take your pick…


  1. You
  2. Someone
  3. Participant
  4. Person
  5. Human
  6. Individual
  7. Attendee
  8. Others
  9. Collaborator
  10. Party
  11. Account holder
  12. Host
  13. Admin
  14. Customer
  15. Client
  16. Shopper
  17. Reader
  18. Visitor
  19. Member
  20. Enthusiast
  21. Owner, Pet-owner
  22. Lover, Fashion lover
  23. {insert profession} — accountant, musician, business owner, boss, employee
  24. Team member
  25. Colleague
  26. Couple
  27. Parent
  28. Child
  29. Partner
  30. Supporter
  31. Fan
  32. Applicant
  33. Investor
  34. Guest
  35. Passenger
  36. Jetsetter
  37. Forward-thinker
  38. Legend
  39. Follower
  40. Companion
  41. Carer
  42. Icon
  43. Superstar
  44. Fashion addict
  45. Fashion lover
  46. Stylist
  47. Style icon
  48. Friend
  49. Donor

Feeling the warm fuzzies already?

Like all most UX writing tips, often the solution is simple once you catch the right wave of thinking.

Next time you’re stuck, use these 7 simple strategies to transform your microcopy and find the right balance between short and snappy copy.

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