A common term in the design world is:

Design for stupid.

Another one is the acronym KISS which stands for:

Keep it simple stupid.


Keep it stupid simple.

The logic in these statements is that if we design a product/experience/interface/etc. to be easy-to-use and work well for "stupid" users it will therefore work well for most users. However, we wouldn't blatantly call these users "stupid" to their face. So for this user group that requires extra assistance, what is a nicer non-offensive word to reference them?

These users tend to have difficulty in using a product/experience/interface/etc. due to a lack of experience/knowledge/common-sense/know-how/logic.

  • Non-expert.............................
    – PhillipW
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 19:08

3 Answers 3


KISS does indeed mean "Keep it simple, stupid", but the stupid in question is not the user - it's the designer. This is a self-humbling mantra reminding you to avoid going too deep down the rabbit hole.

Although I think the assumption that our users are "stupid" is wrong to begin with, I think you're looking for terms like "inexperienced users" or "novice users".

  • "...[Kelly] Johnson translated it as, 'Keep it simple stupid' (no comma)... There was no implicit meaning that an engineer was stupid; just the opposite. ...the jet aircraft they were designing must be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under combat conditions with only these tools. Hence, the 'stupid' refers to the relationship between the way things break and the sophistication available to fix them." In a sense they were designing these planes to be repairable by any mechanic user. military.wikia.org/wiki/KISS_principle
    – Davbog
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 20:06
  • "Novice" implies users who are new to the specific product/experience/interface/etc. however, they may have previous experience with another one. Or they may have more common sense when it comes to using it and therefore won't have as much difficulty. I'd reckon it's still a better candidate than "stupid."
    – Davbog
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 20:11
  • "Inexperienced" might be the right word here as most products/experiences/interfaces/etc. build upon other products/experiences/interfaces/etc. and the users who use one could have an upper hand in using another. The only downside to using the term "inexperienced" is that it can refer to both users without any experience in using other/common products/experiences/interfaces/etc. but also refers to users without any experience in a specific product/experience/interface/etc. I think this term is so far the best, but I would love to hear more answers and more comments first. Thank you.
    – Davbog
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 20:20
  • Nope. You can have lots of experience of something, but not have to know much about it. (eg you can drive cars for years, yet not know much about how they actually work, or indeed be that interested in it).
    – PhillipW
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 17:54

First, to define the opposite term:


adjective, sav·vi·er, sav·vi·est.
1. experienced, knowledgable, and well-informed; shrewd (often used in combination):
consumers who are savvy about prices;
a tech-savvy entrepreneur.

2. Also sav·vi·ness. practical understanding; shrewdness or intelligence; common sense:
a candidate who seemed to have no political savvy.

verb (used with or without object), sav·vied, sav·vy·ing.
3. to know; understand.

From Dictionary.com

The term "tech-savvy" is used quite often in the industry. As such, I'd suggest that "not tech-savvy" (or simply "non-savvy," if the context is clear) may be the most accurate in your case.


Design for the Perpetual Intermediates

While everyone is a novice at some point, few remain at that level for very long. Every interaction with any site or piece of technology adds to their mental models and they quickly move up in experience. Even if you are designing an interface for a first-time user, it's likely you assume they know what a screen and keyboard are and don't try to simplify things too far.

At the same time, few people use a specific piece of software long enough or deeply enough to attain expert status. And even those that do may find that their knowledge erodes due to time or version updates. Even if you have a captive audience with a requirement to use your tool, they might still appreciate some help if it's their first day or they just came back from vacation.

Most users, most of the time aren't at extreme ends of the spectrum.

Therefore, design for the Perpetual Intermediates. Those that have enough knowledge to be able to find their way around if it's clearly marked, but not enough to have memorized anything about your designs.


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