The Problem With Users

Talk to almost any Web design firm or interactive agency and they will talk about how “users” use and interact with your website. It’s all about “usability” and where the “users” will go, and how the “users” will navigate through your Website or campaign.

The concept of the “user” we find, is very Web 1.0 and reflects the era when IT ran the Website from design through to emails and what technology was used. The concept of a “user” is very much a programming approach, and in that context, is viable. But is it viable in the context of the Web 2.0 world? The very nature of Web 2.0 is to enable participation by the people who visit and engage with a Website.

In this context then, at intevix, we think of visitors to a site not as “users” but as Participants. They are participating in a conversation with you. Hopefully. If you’ve engaged them successfully. By thinking of these people (they are people, not blank faced automatons) as Participants, it fundamentally changes how you develop strategies overall, and how successful a project may be. The concept of “User” is one way and does not reflect engagement, whereas Participant reflects a sense of conversation, openness and activity.


  1. Hi David,

    I think at some point a few designers lost track of the users needs, goals of the website, and the actual use, deciding to design visually overwhelming web properties that have taken no consideration into user experience.

    While having a visually stimulating web presence is good, having your users get lost, frustrated or confused in the experience is a big negative.

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