Working on a site that allows users to listen to audio through some means of playback. Whether it is on their desktop (software), smart device (app), or special hardware, they can choose one of those playback systems and follow the directions for how to listen on it. The site has adopted the term "player" for quite some time now, so for existing users it may be appropriate. But when it comes to conventions and readability, I am suggesting the term "device."

At the "on-boarding" process to sign up with this site, you must "add a player", meaning choose your playback system so it can easily be set up. Through usability testing, the term "player" did not grasp the user's thought right away (e.g. player in video game, CD players, Windows Media Player).

The company plans on expanding, and expects exceptional growth by more then triple within the next two years. It can presumed that to keep up with standards, the term "device" should be adopted as it seems to be more commonly known and easily understood.

Given that there is much change to be considered when adapting the terminology from "player" to "device", would it be more appropriate to use the existing term "player" and define it early to the user in the flow so that it is set up for success, or change the terminology to "device" because that is more conventional?

  • Device seems pretty easily recognizable; I don't think many people think of "media players" anymore...they're just another computer.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 13:07

1 Answer 1


Through usability testing, the term "player" did not grasp the user's thought right away (e.g.player in video game, cd players, windows media player).

What you said about the term "player" being used in so many different contexts is absolutely true. When I think of a player, I think of sports, and I am sure that others have different meanings associated with the word player. To some the word could even have a negative meaning (eg. "That guy/girl was such a player! I never want to see his/her face again!).

From what I have found the most clear definition of a "music player" is a multimedia device.

This definition will deter the user from thinking that by "adding a player" that they are required to add an additional account or user. Most users will know the definition of multimedia and virtually everyone knows what a device is.

Usually when a test user struggles to understand the meaning of a certain term, that's the time to consider using a different term, instead of attempting to force the meaning into their minds.

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