The entire technology industry uses the word “user” to describe
its customers. While it might be convenient, “users” is a rather
passive and abstract word. No one wants to be thought of as a
“user” (or “consumer” for that matter). I certainly don’t. And I
wouldn’t consider my mom a “user” either, she’s my mom. The word
“user” abstracts the actual individual. This may seem like a small
and insignificant detail that doesn’t matter, but the vernacular
and words we use here at Square set a very strong and subtle tone
for everything we do. So let’s now part ways with our industry and
That’s why Apple has always had human interface guidelines, not user interface guidelines.
The word “customer” is a much more active and bolder word. It’s
honest and direct. It immediately suggests a relationship we must
deliver on. And our customers think of their customers in the
Interesting contrast between Dorsey’s two companies, Square and Twitter. Twitter clearly doesn’t view its users as customers — but they should.
Update: Lots of feedback from those pointing out that Twitter’s customers are its advertisers, and the old adage that what they’re selling to advertisers is us. Clearly, yes, that’s how they see it, as do other major social networks. I’m saying they should treat users as customers, too — customers paying not with dollars but with their precious and limited attention.
★ Wednesday, 17 October 2012