User (system)

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A system user is a person who interacts with a system, typically through an interface, to extract some functional benefit. User-centered design, often associated with human–computer interaction, considers a wide range of generic systems.


Users authorized to change the way the system behaves are often called operators. Users who rely on a system, but do not operate it, are sometimes called the audience or end user.

For example, when a driver (car operator) uses the horn to warn a pedestrian, then the driver is the horn operator and the pedestrian is the audience.[1] Another example of various types of users are the operators of electronic boards, such as in airports or in e-commerce, who update messages, contrasted with the audience who read the messages.

Related terms[edit]

This term is distinguished from user in computing, where users include software agents that rely on other software for its operation.

This term overlaps with end-user, a term introduced by software developers to distinguish the "irrational user" from themselves.[2]

Unlike consumer products, the customers of systems are not the same as the users. Typically, the customer is often an organization, and the user is an employee of that organization. This implies, for example, that in case of significant loss due to use error, the customer seeks to nominate the user as accountable for the loss.[citation needed]