OMG, I almost didn’t notice, who are these people on these phones?? They are users, or at least they are pretending to be for their photographer. This photo represents seven people (users) who have no freaking clue how to use an interface, or maybe just the guy in the middle and the lady on the right. Everyone else seem pretty happy looking at photos or some random interface a programmer made.

I’ve been creating graphical interfaces for 20 years. Most of the time what mattered most was getting the next interface out the door as fast as you possibly can. When that was the scenario, users always seemed like an abstract idea. Because at that point, you did not have time for the user. All users became was a tallied milestone. I imagine this was not the case for everyone, but know I was not alone in this mindset because terms like “user experience” and “user interface” came from programmers from the early 2000s. It’s what we call the damn database tables “users”. We have a rows of thousands of people's information including names, numbers, addresses, and we call that table “users”. Would it be any different if we called that table “people”?

Lately I’ve been studying a lot about influencer marketing, and a recurring theme that keeps surfacing is how to treat users. This had me come to believe the term users may negatively affect how decisions are made for people who use your software. It was then my mindset shifted.

Sounds silly, but as programmers we too often forget there are different people of all makes trying to decipher the same interface. Take a look at that photo again and imagine the photographer said “here, use this phone, I’m going to take a couple photos of you” and people are like “How do you turn this thing on”. Are their screens on? Are they looking at software? Who cares really? Apparently a lot of programmers forgot to care. So I write those for those programmers: when designing software, start imagining the seven people in the photo above always using your software.

People breathe, have a heart and soul and unique opinions. Value that. Sometimes when programmers are deep in the rabbit hole they need to be reminded. Treat people as people. Keep this in mind and use social media to engage with people who use your software. You will get great feedback. People have real networks, and people talk; it’s what we are engineered to do. A great benefit from open communication with people about your software is they will take ownership. This natural phenomenon will help your software will grow from word of mouth and open discussion. So train yourself or your team to treat users like people. This behavior will lead to better interactions, communication and responses.

Now go practice these at home:

  • How many PEOPLE are on your platform?
  • How many PEOPLE signed up today?
  • How can we improve that PERSON’s experience?
  • We lost all that PERSON’s data!
  • That PERSON’s settings are all wrong.
  • People’s Experiences
  • Graphical People Interface (lol)

This article was originally written by Randy as an editorial for MarTech Advisors