Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Not sure if this is the proper place for this question. In my opinion, it is related to user experience, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

If you have a site/application that separate users with admin-access (the right to change settings, add new users etc.) from those who do not have admin-access (basically only have read access to the data). It's quite easy to name those with admin-access and just call them "Administrators", but what would you call those without admin-access? I'm looking for a word, both to use in the UI and within specs and code, to separate the two types of users.

I thought of names like "Normal", "Regular", "Ordinary" and so forth, but non of them feel right. They all have some sort of negative or undesirable tone, I believe. Just calling them "User" doesn't seem right either, as users with admin-access are users as well.

I'd love some input on a name, where the purpose of it is clear, but without adding some sort of undesired value.


The context I'm facing is similar to the one of Google Analytics. A user can create a user account, and then work with one or many applications associated with her account. For some of the applications she might be an Administrator, for some she might not.

Looking through the terminology used by Google Analytics, they call the users either Administrator or User, so that seems to be an established terminology and might not be that bad, but I'm not entirely sold, so any better suggestion is appreciated.

At the moment I'm leaning towards the suggestion by Peter, to name the role based on what they do (something related to viewing statistics about the app).

share|improve this question
Why not use a standard word such as member? –  Benny Skogberg Oct 14 '12 at 12:58
@BennySkogberg Thanks for your suggestion, member might be a good idea. I added some additional context to the question, and perhaps Member would be the appropriate word for an individual user account in my case, but I'm not sure if it suits the role they have (or lack of Administrator role). –  Christofer Eliasson Oct 14 '12 at 13:57
Analyst, Webmaster, Site manager? –  Peter Bagnall Oct 14 '12 at 14:01
I prefer the term "data peasants". –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Oct 14 '12 at 15:58
@JimmyBreck-McKye I was going to suggest pawns... –  Tobias Kienzler Oct 14 '12 at 16:44

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

What's your app about? There is probably some natural term from the domain. For example, if it was a forum that might be "member". For this site we might call ourselves UXers, designers (oh, hell, I've opened a huge can of worms there!).

The other thing to think about is roles instead of users. For example, I have an application which has a workflow in several distinct stages. The first step is known as collection, so users who perform that role are called collectors. The next step is assembly, so users there are called assemblers and so on. But in fact quite a few users are both collectors and assemblers. As it happens there are also admins, but that's just another role in the system. So the term we use varies throughout the system depending on the role the user is performing in that part of the system.

In my application if we want to talk about the permissions system itself then, yes we fall back to the word users - e.g. users can only access those parts of the system for which they have permission. But for the team using that application we rarely talk about "users", typically we're more specific.

share|improve this answer
While it's a perfectly fine answer, I disagree that "it's pretty rare to talk about users" - apart from enterprise systems, it's really rare to differentiate between class of users or roles. It's extremely hard to make a management of any small company understand that they have different kind of users/target audiences / etc. Even on SE, users are called users, just look on the menu bar. –  Aadaam Oct 14 '12 at 15:14
@Aadaam, I meant it's pretty rare for the specific team I was talking about in the example to use the term users. We always use a more specific term. I'll tweak the answer to make that a bit more explicit. –  Peter Bagnall Oct 14 '12 at 15:20

Think of user as the base user type and everyone assigned to this type is called just user.

Admin actually inherits from the user type and gets i.e. more rights and this is why you may call him admin.

So if a user is just a user and not a specialization of user type it makes no sense to call him somehow different.

Ok, this might be from the view of a programmer but I think it makes sense and in the end everybody knows what user means. There is actullay no need to invent something else.

share|improve this answer

Since the Unix admin is called root, why not pick some plant parts like Sprout, Seedling, Leave, Flower, Fruit? The further they are from the root, the less privileges they possess.

share|improve this answer
Thanks for your response! Even though it's a creative idea, my gut tells me it's a bit too abstract for most people to grasp intuitively. –  Christofer Eliasson Oct 14 '12 at 15:54
Yes, I guess it is too non-standard to be accepted by users –  Tobias Kienzler Oct 14 '12 at 16:45

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.