From an office-wide letter Jack Dorsey sent to Square employees:
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 rethink this.
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 same way.
We have two types of customers: sellers and buyers. So when we need to be more specific, we’ll use one of those two words.
I’d go a step further and rip out “our” from the phrase, too. Remove it entirely from your organization’s language. “Your players” don’t belong to you.1
Lots of players aren’t even fully aware of the developer behind the game they love. Or it’s one of many games they interact with, and they certainly don’t think of themselves as tied to you as a developer in any meaningful way.2
I have a lot of respect for leaders who pay attention to the language used in their organizations, because it’s so core to everyone’s perspective that they might not even notice it themselves. But the core is where you really need to pivot a perspective that’s ever-so-slightly off course.
If you want to truly adopt a players’ perspective,3 you have to start by understanding that your perspective is flawed, wrong, spoiled. Yours is a privileged view of your work, with teams and initiatives and projects and backlogs and trade-offs players won’t ever see. They see one thing: the experience you provide, and it’s good or bad.
Language changes like Dorsey’s are good ways to shake people out of the safe view that “we grok our players.” That view is dangerous, often when it’s mixed with some truth. You might be a player yourself, but no player can put a face to a feature like you can. You have to look at your work from the outside in or else you’ll be stuck in an echo chamber of how awesome you think you are, or you’ll start to believe in some idealized “player” or “user” that doesn’t exist, and eventually you’ll be wrong.
[ Via Daring Fireball’s link to a post by Benedict Evans. ]