I'm writing a description for a piece of software that targets the user who is "not technically minded", i.e. a person who uses "browser/office/email" and has a low tolerance for anything technical, he just "wants it to work" without being involved in any of the technical details.

What is the best non-disparaging term you have seen to describe this kind of user?

  • non-technical user
  • low-tech user
  • office user
  • normal user
  • technically challenged user
  • non-developer
  • computer joe

Surely there is some official, politically-correct retronym for this kind of user that the press and software marketing use.


computer/technology layman or layperson?

+1  A: 

Home user? Pretty much.... or you could say 'For family'.

+12  A: 

I've used "casual user"

I like that, it sounds positive and with a hint that the user might "try something new if it happens to work intuitively".
Edward Tanguay
Hmmm, casual user. Causer? Cuser? J'accuse! :-)
+41  A: 

Just use "end user".

It communicates exactly who you're talking about without risk of put down. End users are people who use the product and want their software to function without hassle.

Paul Sasik
Sums it up perfectly I think.
While I entered my answer as a bit of a joke, I fully agree with this, or "customer."
The external references mentioned in Wikipedia ( support your choice, only hyphened: "end-user". Why hyphened? I don't know. (See also
Daniel Daranas
But "end user" can be "technical" or not. For instance, I'm the "end user" of Emacs. Do I expect it to "just work"? No, of course. I use it because I want to be involved in technical details and tweak them.
Joonas Pulakka
@Joonas Pulakka: Then just use "End-user who is not a professional developer". I don't think architects have a single word to describe people who live in houses but are not architects themselves. Do you have words for non-professional tennis players? Non-professional dancers? People who are not dentists but brush their teeth?
Daniel Daranas
@Daniel Daranas: "End-user who is not a professional developer" is quite clumsy, isn't it? And plain "end user" is highly ambiguous. So how about using some other term altogether? I like "casual user". I also use the term "hobbyist" about myself with regards to music etc. that I do non-professionally. How about "casual dancer", "casual singer" etc.?
Joonas Pulakka
you could conjure up a new term and copy paste it all across the document. Or you could write a short paragraph that gives the definition of the target end-user for your application and from then on use the word end user. Yes End user without context is ambiguous but since you do have a context.. use it !
With context, ok. But the OP was asking for a term describing the user who is "not technically minded". A single product can have both technically minded and not-technically-minded end users; for instance, a database product can be used by its administrator, and by an office clerk. They use it at quite different levels, but both are end users of the DB, aren't they?
Joonas Pulakka
Some extremely politically correct people complain about the word "user", equating the term with drug user, although end user is pretty much everywhere, the de facto term of choice.
Hmm. Tons of answers and votes here but none accepted?
Paul Sasik
brilliant! this is exact word i use and always get understood correctly. for our products we usually have administrator - the technical guy that set up the application and end user - the one who uses without getting into technical details.

typical user?

It kind of depends on the context you're using it. Language is complex and a word in one setting will have a different nuance than when it's used in another.

Syntax Error
+1  A: 

I like the term "non-autistic" to describe the technically-declined end-user.

One term used for non-autistic is neurotypical:
Andrew Grimm
  • Normal human being.
  • The not technically minded. (can sound disparaging).
  • Everyday users.
  • Someone who just wants to get things done.
... or potential iPad purchaser! ;-)
+2  A: 

I would call it "customer". After all, computers and software are simply tools purchased by regular persons to help (or hinder :) their daily lives and works.

Otávio Décio
+8  A: 

ID:10T error waiting to happen. ;-D

Sky Sanders
funny: reminds me of a "DDT error" (don't do that)
Edward Tanguay
Aka PEBKAC ("Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair")
Eduardo Scoz
+5  A: 

"luser" goes back to MIT circa 1975 according to the Jargon File.

Mark Harrison
I am sure that would do wonders as a "non-disparaging term" but it's an interesting piece of history!
Yes, I suppose it would help if your lusers had a great sense of humor.
Mark Harrison
+13  A: 

I just call them "Lesser Mortals"

...exactly why developers aren't allowed to interact with customers. lol and +1 nonetheless
+1  A: 

A mere mortal.

I guess stack overflow wants me to type a longer response.


The term I like to use is "PM."


Client, may be?

+5  A: 

As my Data Structures professor referred to them:


A Level 8

Christopher Altman

Muggle (from the Harry Potter series).

Andrew Grimm

Try to change the subject.

How would you describe the person who takes a "medicament", when it is someone who didn't go to the medical school?

How would you name the person who buys some add-on for his car, when it is someone who doesn't care about mechanics, or embedded software?