What is the difference between a user and an end-user?

My understanding is that a user is someone who maintains a software system such as a banking application and a end-user are the customers of this application? But what about the software developers who use the same banking application, what would they be classed as?

A venn diagram of my understanding, displaying user as a subset of end user

  • In your software developer example, how are they using the application? Are they using its APIs to develop another solution? Or are you thinking they use the same application as everyone else but they also work on it?
    – Izquierdo
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


You are right, it is exactly as you say: end users are the users of an end product or service, while users are all the users and stakeholders who interact with the different phases of such a product or service.

Regarding your second question, it is a well-known problem known as overlapping. I have written a rather detailed article on User Roles and UML overlapping on this topic (and made some other considerations), so I will not elaborate much, but quote only the part that is of interest for this question:

In his book on use cases Writing Effective Use Cases, Alistair Cokburn addresses roles in the Unified Modeling Language (UML) and defines the various parties involved in use cases as Actors.

(...) The system proposed by Cockburn is widely used in UX, but its clear systemic conception makes it very difficult for us to dialectically explain the different users and their roles.

Moreover, in UML roles are never connected, although this rule is often violated by the overlapping process. Clearly, a system in which rule violation is the norm is not very consistent or precise.

(...) Let us take a simple example: I create a website for a client (user). The client provides personnel to manage the website (users). These resources are split between administration (users) and content creation (users). And, of course, the website that results from this synergy is experienced by ... users.

My role then will be to make sure that all the users involved in the process, at their different stages and with their different roles, have the best possible user experience.

This simple example, translated into UML, is extremely complex, and almost all roles can fall on the same actor.

Let us say the customer uses a website creation service, e.g. WordPress.com, Wix, etc. Then she decides to create content. And of course, the content is displayed on the website to see how it looks.

In other words, 3 roles in a single actor in one of the most common processes we can imagine (having a website)

enter image description here

In the figure above, we see how the Cockburn model must violate the rules of UML through overlapping.

And yet it is still not clear who the users are and where they are involved in the process, at least dialectically.

In short

Once the programmer interacts with the final product, he becomes a final user, at least momentarily.

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